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I The Eighteenth Century Beginnings 

The Beginning of the Church in Germany 
The Beginning of the Church in America 
The Beginning of the Church in the Carolinas 

Catawba, North Carolina 

Ewarry, North Carolina 

Yadkin, North Carolina 

Beaver Creek, South Carolina 

Clouds Creek, South Carolina 

Edisto, South Carolina 

Broad River, South Carolina 

Tuchosokin, Georgia 

Dutchman's Creek, North Carolina 

Fraternity, North Carolina 

Universalism in the Carolinas 

Building Meeting Houses in the Carolinas 

Fraternity Again 

Ashe County, North Carolina 
In Summary 

D-V. ScU 

1 ^Fage 









II The Nineteenth Century Growth 
Ashe-Alleghany Counties 

Peak Creek 

Pleasant Valley 

Mt. Carmel 

Three Top 


Long Hope 105 

Flat Rock 106 

Mitchell County 108 

Pleasant Grove 110 

Bailey 111 

Brummetts Creek ill 

Polk County 113 

Mill Creek 11") 

Green River Cove 116 

Brooklyn 116 

Eastern North Carolina 1 18 

Oak Grove 118 

In Summary 119 

III The Twentieth Century Maturity 121 

Ashe-Alleghany Counties 122 

Flat Rock 122 

Peak Creek 126 

Pleasant Valley 131 

Mt. Carmel 133 

Long Hope 137 

Blue Ridge 138 

White Rock 140 

New Bethel 141 

Little Pine 142 

Mountain View 147 

Rowland Creek 148 

New Haven 149 

Lowmans Valley 153 

Mt. Olive 155 

Riverside 155 

Friendship-North Wilkesboro 156 

Mt. Airy 159 


Mitchell County 160 

Brummetts Creek 160 

Hollow Poplar 166 

Petersons Chapel 168 

Pleasant Grove 168 

Bethel 176 

Bailey 177 

Pigeon River 179 

Upper Brummetts Creek 180 

Berea 181 

Polk County 182 

Mill Creek 182 

Green River Cove 188 

Brooklyn 188 

Melvin Hill 190 

Downs Chapel 200 

Golden 201 

Laurens 202 

Mountain Creek (Spindale) 203 

Spindale 204 

Travelers Rest 206 

Statesville 207 

Spartanburg 2 °8 

Eastern North Carolina 2 1 ° 

Oak Grove 210 

District- Wide Activities 211 

District Organization 211 

District Boards 214 

District Secretary 215 

District Camp 217 

In Summary 225 

Conclusion 226 



About ten years ago, I first became interested in the 
history of the Church of the Brethren in the Carolinas. I was 
engaged in research on the history of the Brethren in Virginia 
in the eighteenth century, and I discovered first of all that the 
account written by Morgan Edwards, a Baptist historian, 
regarding the Brethren in the South in 1772 was still available 
and had not been destroyed; second, I was surprised by his 
claim that there were more Brethren in North and South 
Carolina at that time than there were in Virginia. That was 
particularly surprising since Brethren historians had 
traditionally thought that the beginning of the Brethren in the 
Carolinas had taken place after 1800. 

My opportunity to expand my research on this evidence 
that the Brethren had been in the Carolinas in the 18th century 
did not come until 1966, when I received one of the Humanities 
Fellowships established by the University of North Carolina at 
Chapel Hill and Duke University with a Ford Foundation 
grant. I was able to take a leave of absence during the year 
1966-1967 from my teaching at Bridgewater College in order to 
pursue research on "The German Sectarians in North 
Carolina in the Eighteenth Century." As a result of that 
research I found much additional evidence about the Brethren 
who had arrived in the Carolinas in the 18th century. I wrote 
several articles about these Brethren, two of which have been 
published in the North Carolina Historical Review in 1969 and 
1970. Another article about the Mennonites, who were included 
in my research as German sectarians, has been published in 
the Mennonite Quarterly Review. 

Another result of my research was that I became in- 
terested in the history of the Church of the Brethren in the 
Carolinas in the years since the 18th century. In consultation 
with Bert G. Richardson, who was the executive secretary of 
the District of North and South Carolina of the Church of the 


Brethren, I learned that the Brethren had a long-standing 
interest in having the history of the church in that area written 
but had been unable to find someone to undertake the task. 
Inasmuch as I had had some previous experience in working 
with such districts in the preparation of a history, I agreed to 
write the history of the Brethren in the Carolinas, and the 
District Board of Administration agreed to provide some 
funds to cover the expenses and eventually to publish the 
results in the form of a book. 

After returning to Bridgewater, I spent the summer of 1968 
busily studying and writing about the Brethren in the 
Carolinas. I was significantly assisted in my research by one 
of the most capable students that I have had in my classes in 
Brethren history, Robert E. Alley, who carefully read all of the 
Gospel Messengers in the Bridgewater College Library, 
looking for material on the Carolina congregations. His notes 
were invaluable in my writing; a quick examination of my 
footnotes in Chapters II and III will indicate that this material 
from the Gospel Messenger proved to be my major source in 
writing the history of the church in the Carolinas in the 20th 
century. Incidentally, I compensated Mr. Alley for his many 
hours of work with some of the expense funds provided by the 
District Board. By the end of the summer, I had completed the 
story of the Brethren in the 19th and 20th centuries and had 
brought the story down to the present-day. 

It has been a genuine pleasure for me to have become 
involved in this project, for I thoroughly enjoy studying and 
writing about the history of the Church of the Brethren. 
Another part of the pleasure is that I have become acquainted 
with some mighty fine people, to whom I have accumulated a 
large measure of indebtedness for the assistance that they 
have provided. I must attempt to name some of these people, 
although I realize that any such attempt runs a great risk of 
omitting others who also played a part. My greatest in- 
debtedness, I am sure, is to Bert G. Richardson, now a pastor 
of a Church of the Brethren in Tennessee, without whose 


assistance and encouragement this book would never have 
been written or published; he has read the second and third 
chapters and has provided many helpful suggestions which 
have made the text more accurate. He has also led out in the 
negotiations for the publication of the book. Another person 
who has read much of the manuscript and offered many 
valuable suggestions was Clayton B. Miller, who has been 
active as a minister in different North Carolina congregations 
for much of the 20th century ; he has also written extensively 
about the history of the Brethren in the Ashe- Alleghany county 
area, and thus has provided valuable material for my study. 
Finally, among those in North Carolina who have been very 
helpful has been Miss Betty Griffith, who has read the 
manuscript and has offered suggestions dealing especially 
with the Mitchell County congregations ; she also has played a 
major role in collecting the pictures used in this book and in 
working with the publisher. 

I am also indebted to the editorial staff, especially Mrs. 
Memory F. Mitchell, of the North Carolina Historical Review 
for helpful suggestions and for permission to use in Chapter I 
material which has already appeared in that journal. One of 
the results of the publication of my material in the Review was 
that I was brought into contact with Dr. John Scott Davenport, 
the director of research of Scripps-Howard with offices in 
Cincinnati. He was personally interested in the Germans in 
North Carolina who intermarried with his ancestors, and he 
has become very much interested in the early Brethren in the 
South Atlantic area and in their emigration to the Ohio River 
Valley. He is furthermore a remarkably skilled researcher in 
working with legal documents, and he has been able to sup- 
plement my work with the 18th century Carolina Brethren 
with much additional information. As a result there is some 
significant material in this book which did not appear in the 
Review articles. 

To all of these individuals, I am deeply grateful for the 

contribution that they have made toward making this book 
possible. They deserve a great deal of the credit that may 
result from its publication. Whatever errors of fact or of in- 
terpretation may be discovered are of course my respon- 

I firmly believe that this book will make a contribution to 
our historical understanding not only of the Brethren who have 
lived in relative isolation in small numbers in the South 
Atlantic states, but also in broader outline it will contribute to 
our understanding of the difficulties involved in the transitions 
from a sect group that is emerging as a more churchly 
religious type and from a completely rural religious group 
that is trying to adjust to the urbanized culture of the United 
States in the 20th century. For the members of the Church of 
the Brethren in the Carolinas, these transitions have provided 
many difficult and challenging moments in their lives. 

Bridgewater, Virginia 

June 1 , 197 1 Roger E . Sappington 



History is a continuous stream, flowing from the past to 
the present, and into the future. We are so involved in paddling 
our canoes upstream that it is a very difficult task for us to 
take time out in our present day routine to write about the 
past. This has been true with the Brethren in the Carolinas. It 
has been a long hard task to get a History of the North & South 
Carolina District, Church of the Brethren. Some have labored 
at this task for 17 years. 

At the Melvin Hill District Conference in August 1954, a 
committee consisting of Virgie (Mrs. Bryson) Mclntyre, Rt. 1, 
Campobello,S. C, Miss Juanita Harrell, Bakersville, N. C. and 
myself, was formed. Our task was to collect historical 
material, compile facts and to see that a history of the District 
was written. For a short while the three of us worked very 
diligently at the task. We soon found out that the Brethren in 
the Carolinas were doers rather than recorders, and that 
authentic historical material was very difficult to collect, 
especially in the local congregations. 

Over the years the members of the committee changed 
from time to time. This is understandable because of the 
length of time involved. Many people which I will not attempt 
to mention served on the committee and made their con- 
tribution. Also, many others in the local congregations helped 
in collecting material. Since I served as District Executive 
Secretary for several years, I had the opportunity to be in all 
the congregations and this gave us a chance to be alert for 
material that would be of value to the historical committee. 

It became evident that if the History was ever completed, 
the District Board should supervise the work. This happened 
in 1965 and was turned over to the Commission on Nurture. In 
the Fall of 1966, Dr. Roger Sappington, Professor of History, 
and a Church Historian, visited me in Johnson City. At that 
time he was doing research on the Early Brethren in the 
Carolinas. We talked about the History of the N&S Carolina 


District. I invited him to attend a meeting of the N&S Carolina 
District Board which would be held at the New Haven Church 
in November. At this meeting, Dr. Sappington was asked by 
the Board to write the History of the District. He accepted. 

By the Spring of 1969, Dr. Sappington sent to the District 15 
copies of a rough-draft of the history. These were to be 
distributed across the District for correction, additional in- 
formation, editing, etc. The people of the District responded 
very slowly to this and very little was done. 

At this point the District Board appointed Betty Griffith, 
Relief, N. C. to work as a liaison between Dr. Sappington and 
the local churches. Her task was to collect additional in- 
formation, pictures, secure a publisher and to do what was 
possible to get the history completed by District Conference, 
1971. Watson's Lithographing Company of Kingsport, Ten- 
nessee, was selected as the publisher, and once again I found 
myself involved working as a go-between the Publisher, Betty 
Griffith and Roger Sappington, the Author. It now appears that 
the 1971 deadline-District Conference, Aug. 15, will be met. 

We are deeply indebted to Professor Sappington for his 
dedication to this task. Without his services, we probably 
would still be struggling with what seemed to us as a job 
beyond our capabilities. 

The author, Roger Sappington, was born and reared in 
Florida. He graduated from Manchester College with the B. A. 
degree, from Bethany Biblical Seminary with the B. D. and 
from Duke University with the M. A. and the Ph. D. He is an 
ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and served 
the Pleasant View church near Lima, Ohio for three years. 
Currently he is Professor of History, Bridgewater College, 
Bridgewater, Va. He has written several histories regarding 
the Church of the Brethren and is regarded as one of the best 
historians in the Church. Most of all, he is a fine Christian 

Jonesboro, Tennessee Bert G - Richardson 

July 10, 1971 


Chapter I 


During the years since its founding in 1708 the Church of 
the Brethren has been known by a number of names. Prior to 
1908 the church was known as the German Baptist Brethren, a 
name adopted in 1871. Frequently, the Brethren, as they 
preferred to be known, have been called Dunkers. This term 
evidently originated from the practice of these people of 
baptizing by immersion. In Germany where they originated as 
a sect, the word describing such a baptism is tunken, and 
occasionally, the term, the Tunkers, is used in describing 
them. Apparently, the English in America tended to confuse 
the German "T" with the English "D" sound, and the result 
was the term Dunker or sometimes, Dunkard, both of which 
are corruptions of the German, Tunker. In this volume, the 
term, Brethren, will be most commonly used to refer to the 
Christians who are today known as the members of the Church 
of the Brethren. 

Ideologically, the Brethren were an outgrowth of the 
Pietistic Movement. Even though the most important leader 
of the Pietists, Philip Jacob Spener, did not favor separating 
from the state church to form a new church, some eighteenth 
century Christians found it difficult to follow his pietistic ideas 
and remain within the state church. Consequently, a con- 
siderable body of separatists lived in those states and 
provinces within Germany where at least a limited degree of 
toleration had been granted by the ruler. It was in such an 
area, in the county of Wittgenstein in the village of Sch- 
warzenau that a group of eight separatists under the 
leadership of Alexander Mack, a miller from Schriesheim, 

went down into the River Eder on an unknown day in the 
summer of 1708 to be rebaptized as Brethren. 1 

What were the tenets which differentiated this new sect 
from the numerous Christian groups already in existence? 
One of their most basic convictions was that Christians in the 
eighteenth century ought to try to imitate the Christians of the 
first century in every way possible. For this reason the 
Brethren adopted the form of baptism by trine immersion, 
which involved three separate immersions under the water 
"in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy 
Spirit" (Matthew 28: 19) ; based on the very recent writings of 
Gottfried Arnold, they believed that this was the form of 
baptism used by the first century Christians. The Brethren 
also changed the practice of the Eucharist by adopting the 
form of the Lord's Supper as Jesus and his disciples per- 
formed it on the last evening before his crucifixion ; in addition 
to the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup, the 
Brethren washed one another's feet and ate a meal together, 
and all of this they did on an evening about once or twice a 
year. Finally, the Brethren actively practiced the anointing 
for healing based on James 5:14-16. In other words, they 
believed in some definite modifications in the performance of 
the ordinances, as they called them, or the sacraments, as the 
more liturgical churches called them. 

These early Brethren may be classified as sectarians 
because of their rejection of many of the traditional patterns 
of society. In accepting such a sectarian pattern, the Brethren 
were influenced in many ways by the Mennonites who were an 
outgrowth of the Swiss Anabaptist movement of the 1520's. 
Both groups believed in non-resistance or pacifism, refused to 
take an oath, rejected the courts as a method of settling 
disputes, and followed great plainness in language and dress. 
These patterns of life have sometimes been called by Brethren 

1. The background and beginning of the Brethren in Europe has been most recently 
described in a fine set of documents collected and edited by Donald F. Durnbaugh, 
European Origins of the Brethren (Elgin, Illinois: The Brethren Press, 1958). 

leaders the simple life or the good life. Morgan Edwards, a 
Baptist writer, described these people in 1770: "In a word, they 
are meek and pious Christians ; and have justly acquired the 
character of the Harmless Tunkers." 2 

With the zeal and exuberance of a new religious sect, the 
Brethren began to spread across Germany and soon had 
established congregations at Marienborn, Epstein, and 
Krefeld. However, political persecution and economic hard- 
ships made life difficult for the Brethren wherever they went. 
In addition to these pressures tending to push them out of 
Europe, America was also exerting a pulling force on them. 
The Brethren in Krefeld had come into particularly close 
contact with the Mennonites there as fellow sectarians, and 
from them they learned of the Mennonite success 
economically in the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania. As a 
result, most of the Brethren in Krefeld departed for America 
in 1719 under the leadership of Peter Becker. There they ex- 
pected to find complete religious freedom, full political ac- 
ceptance, and unbounded economic opportunity. 


In these high expectations, the Brethren were not disap- 
pointed, for Pennsylvania offered them all that they had ex- 
pected. Within five years after their arrival they had 
organized three congregations-Germantown near 
Philadelphia, and Coventry and Conestoga in the interior of 
the colony. Their prosperity in America together with further 
difficulties in Europe which had caused the Schwarzenau 
group under Mack to flee to Holland in 1719 now caused Mack 
and his followers to depart from Holland and sail for Penn- 
sylvania, where they were joyfully reunited with their 

2. Morgan Edwards, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists in Pennsylvania 

(Philadelphia: Crukshank and Collins, 1770), I., 67. Hereinafter cited as Edwards, Penn- 

brethren. After their arrival in America in 1729, only a small 
remnant remained in Europe; over a period of years it 
gradually disappeared from the scene. 

In America the overwhelming majority of the Brethren 
became farmers, which is not really very surprising since that 
was what the overwhelming majority of all Americans were 
doing. Along with the Scotch-Irish who arrived in America 
somewhat later than the early Germans, the Brethren were 
constantly seeking new and better land on the frontier. This 
search eventually carried them across the continent to the 
Pacific coast, but this story is limited to what was happening 
along the South Atlantic seaboard. 


No one has ever attempted to write and to publish the 
story of the Brethren in the Carolinas, even though there have 
been Brethren in this area for more than two hundred years. 
Such a study has only become possible in the last ten years 
with the discovery for the first time by Brethren historians of 
extensive material dealing with the Brethren in the Carolinas. 
The most important of these discoveries was the realization 
that Professor Floyd E. Mallott, for many years the leading 
Brethren historian as the instructor of church history in the 
church's only seminary, had been incorrect in his assumption 
that the very valuable account of the Baptists (including the 
"Tunker Baptists") south of the Mason-Dixion line by the 
Baptist minister, Morgan Edwards in the early 1770's, had 
been irretrievably destroyed. In 1954 Mallott wrote: "It is a 
sad misfortune that his manuscript on 'Tunker Baptists' in 
Maryland (and presumably south of Maryland) was never 
published and was destroyed by fire as it lay in the files of the 
Baptist Publication Society in Philadelphia." 3 Actually, 

3. Floyd E. Mallott, Studies in Brethren History (Elgin: Brethren Publishing House, 
1954), page 89. 

copies of this manuscript are available today in the libraries of 
Furnlan University and of Crozer Seminary. 

Another important development was the discovery that 
the very fine published Moravian Records of the Moravian 
settlement in North Carolina included a number of valuable 
insights into the life of the Brethren who were living as next 
door neighbors of the Moravians. Finally, the land records of 
North and South Carolina contain extensive material on the 
movements of the Brethren. Without these three sources, 
which are utilized extensively in this study for the first time, 
any attempt to discuss the history of the Brethren in the 
Carolinas in the eighteenth century would be impossible. In 
fact, it has been generally assumed by Brethren historians 
that Brethren life in the Carolinas did not begin before 1800? 

Since Morgan Edwards' account of the Brethren in the 
Carolinas in 1772 provides the only available general survey of 
all of the Brethren in the two colonies, and hence, is of great 
importance to the historian, his account needs to be evaluated 
carefully. According to his information, the Brethren had 
arrived in North Carolina in 1742 and in South Carolina in 1748. 
Although Edwards did not provide any evidence to support the 
North Carolina date, in his South Carolina account he listed the 
names of three families who arrived in 1748 and each of these- 
families was soon listed in the land records. This difference is 
typical of the two accounts. He named only four Brethren in 
North Carolina, all of whom were ministers, while in South 
Carolina he named twenty-eight Brethren, including ministers 
and laymen. In his account of the Brethren in Pennsylvania, 
which is by far his finest, he named each one of the seven 
hundred sixty-three baptized members. Also his geographical 
descriptions of the location of the societies, as he called them, 
was much more precise in South Carolina than in North 

4. Ibid., page 116. Mallott understood that "the beginning in North Carolina is 
associated with the name of Jacob Faw. He heard of the Brethren in Franklin County and 
cameto hear them preach. He was baptized and his home became an outpost." Actually, 
this event took place in the 1840's and is described in detail in the discussion of the 
Fraternity congregation in Chapter II of this book. 

Finally, the superiority of Edwards' account of the 
Brethren in South Carolina is indicated by his information 
regarding the leading Brethren minister in the colony, David 
Martin, about whom he knew more than about any other 
Brethren minister south of Pennsylvania. He listed his date 
and place of birth, the date of his ordination and by whom, the 
names of his wife and children, and also a brief description of 
his personality and character. Almost certainly, Edwards had 
interviewed Martin, which indicates that Martin had learned 
English, since Edwards did not speak German. In contrast, in 
North Carolina Edwards had not had the benefit of such an 
interview with the Brethren and his account suffered ac- 


Although Morgan Edwards' account of the Brethren in 
North Carolina is not as helpful as his South Carolina account, 
it is nonetheless an essential starting point for this story. He 
began his account of the three societies in North Carolina: 

"Catawba, the north branch of Peedee, miles WbS 

from Newburn and SW from Philadelphia. The 

families about forty whereof thirty persons are baptized. The 
minister Samuel Saunder." 5 Although the Catawba River of 
North Carolina is the north branch of the Wateree River, not 
the Peedee River, as Edwards understood it, the evidence 
indicates that a large Brethren settlement developed in the 
general area south and west of the Catawba River in the 
period beginning in the late 1740's. This settlement may well 
have been the earliest and the largest of the Brethren set- 
tlements in North Carolina, for Edwards listed it first among 

5. Morgan Edwards, "Materials towards a history of the Baptists in the provinces of 
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia," 1772. Microfilm of 
manuscript belonging to Alester G. Furman of Greenville, South Carolina, made by the 
Duke University Library, 1952. Hereinafter cited as Edwards, "Materials." 

the North Carolina congregations and indicated that it had the 
largest number of families. 

By 1772 when Edwards wrote, the land records indicate the 
presence in this area of families of Millers, Saylors, Zim- 
mermans, Hoovers, Sniders, Dicks, Reynharts, Rhodes, 
Moyers, Ulrichs, Yoders, Clines, Hendrickses, Kellers, and 
Frys. All of these families (in a wide variety of spellings) were 
identified as Brethren in the northern colonies during this 
period of time. In addition to these families, there were 
numerous other German families which quite probably were 
friends of the Brethren, if not actually Brethren, including 
Forneys, Crowders, Ramsowers, Weitners, Isenharts, Jacobs, 
Bakers, Nesingers, Rudisails, Costners, Leepers, Kuykendols, 
Earharts, Akers, Seitzes, Baumgartners, and Eberharts. 6 

The earliest minister of this Brethren settlement was very 
likely Christopher Guss (Guis), who received a King's Patent 
for one hundred fifty acres of land on the west side of the 
Catawba River on both sides of Middle Creek on October 30, 
1756. Quite possibly, he had been in the area for at least several 
years before the completion of the transaction. Guss sold his 
land in March, 1768 to Peter Krits, and several years later he 
was identified by Morgan Edwards as one of the Brethren 
ministers in Virginia. * 

By the time of Guss' departure for Virginia, his successor 
Samuel Saunders, who was identified as the minister by Ed- 
wards in 1772 had very likely arrived on the scene; in July, 
1767 Samuel Saunders witnessed two land transactions. 
Mysteriously enough, however, the name Samuel now dropped 
out of sight, for these are the only documents before 1800 which 
bear the name, or might be assumed to bear the name, Samuel 
Saunders. There are, however, many documents, including the 
Census of 1790, which include the name Lemuel Saunders, and 
quite possibly, the name was changed in the five years bet- 

6. Land recordsof Anson, Lincoln, and Mecklenburg counties in North Carolina. Deed 
search by Dr. John Scott Davenport, 1100 Central Trust Tower, Cincinnati, Ohio, to whom 
I am deeply indebted for his valuable assistance in this research. 

7. Ibid. See also, Edwards, "Materials." 

ween 1767 and 1772, when Lemuel first appears in the land 
records. 8 That Lemuel was a minister was indicated in 1794 
when he was listed as the elder of the Long Creek Baptist 
church at the time of its re-organization. This congregation 
which is thought to have been in existence at least as early as 
the 1770's may well have been the successor of the Catawba 
Brethren congregation. At the time of Lemuel Saunders' death 
on October 26, 1795, he had at least six children: Thomas, 
Lemuel, Jr., Edward, Samuel, Jesse, and Martha. 9 

What happened to the Brethren in the Catawba River area 
is not at all clear from the available evidence. As has been 
suggested, those who remained in this area very likely merged 
into the Baptist congregations of that day and made an impact 
in that way. Probably, the Brethren witness continued in some 
places in the general area for quite a number of years, because 
it is clear that the Brethren settled in a number of different 
places ; they may well have had as many as half a dozen dif- 
ferent settlements in the area immediately west of the 
Catawba River. And finally, many of the Brethren in this area 
followed the general practice of migrating westward to 
Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. 


According to Edwards' account, a second Brethren 
congregation in North Carolina was called the Ewarry: 
"Ewarry, one of the waters of the north branch of the Peedee, 

miles from Newburn, and SW from 

Philadelphia. The minister Jacob Studeman. The families 
about nineteen whereof thirty persons are baptized. These all 
came to the province about thirty years ago having Rev. Dan 
Leatherman at their head." 10 The geographical description of 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Edwards, "Materials." 

the location of this congregation is the most precise of the 
three North Carolina groups recorded by Edwards, simply 
because the Uwharrie River (as it is spelled today) is a rather 
short river, most of which is in present-day Randolph County. 
Also, if the numerous ways in which German names were 
spelled during this period is understood, this minister had 
quite a history. Most probably, the basic German name was 
Stutzman, but all kinds of variations seemed possible. 

Many of the Stutzmans who landed in Philadelphia 
became Mennonites, but according to C. Henry Smith, one of 
the outstanding Mennonite historians of the twentieth century, 
"The Johan Jacob Stutzman who immigrated October 2, 1727, 
became a Dunkard." 11 Like many Swiss and Germans, he 
probably settled for a time in Lancaster County and then 
moved with the frontier into York County on the west side of 
Susquehanna River. At any rate, Morgan Edwards identified a 
"Studsman" as one of those who "united into a church" in 1738 
to organize the Little Conewago congregation in the township 
of Hanover and the county of York. 12 In all likelihood, this man 
was the same one previously identified by Smith as becoming 
a Dunker. In fact, it may be that this was Jacob Stutzman's 
initial contact with the Dunkers. Also, it ought to be noted that 
in Edwards' list of the members of this congregation in 1770, no 
Stutzman was included, thus indicating either that they had all 
died (unlikely) or that they had moved on with the advancing 
frontier (more likely). 

Another item of importance to the North Carolina 
Brethren in Edwards' account of the history of the Little 
Conewago congregation is the fact that its first minister was 
Daniel Leather man. Like so many others, he followed the call 
of the frontier and moved to the Monocacy River area of 
Maryland in 1756. According to J. M. Henry, writing in his 
doctoral dissertation on the history of the Church of the 

11. C. Henry Smith, "The Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania in the Eighteenth 
Century," The Pennsylvania-German Society Proceedings, XXXV (1929), page 238. 

12. Edwards, Pennsylvania, pages 86-87. 

Brethren in Maryland, Leatherman was probably the same 
man as the Hans Devalt Letterman, who came to Philadelphia 
on the ship, James Goodwell, on September 27, 1727. This boat 
was loaded with Germans who became prominent Brethren, 
such as Michael Tanner, Ulrich Stauffer, Peter Zug, Christian 
Miller, Hans Longenecker, and Henrich Wolff. If Letterman 
was at least twenty-one when he signed the ship's roll in 1727, 
he was a very old man when he died in January, 1798; however, 
Henry's thesis may well be correct, for there is no con- 
tradictory evidence. That Leatherman was old enough to be 
the founding minister of the Little Conewago congregation in 
1738 and to be the presiding elder of the Conewago 
congregation in 1741 would seem to point to his maturity and 
churchmanship. 13 

In his description of the North Carolina Brethren, Ed- 
wards indicated on two different occasions that Daniel 
Leatherman was the "minister" or "head" of these "Tunker- 
baptists" in North Carolina. From these statements, it has 
sometimes been inferred that Leatherman actually lived in 
North Carolina, but the evidence clearly indicates that he 
spent the remainder of his long life in Maryland. He may well 
have visited the Carolinas, for in 1770 he and another Maryland 
minister, Nicholas Martin, ordained David Martin, a South 
Carolina Brethren minister. 

The evidence seems to indicate that Daniel Leatherman 
and the minister of the Ewarry congregation in North 
Carolina, Jacob Stutzman, had been co-workers in the church 
for many years. They had landed in America within a week of 
each other in the fall of 1727, and they had worked together in 
the Little Conewago congregation in the 1730's. In the only 
known list of the elders of the church who composed the 
Standing Committee at the Annual Meeting, both Stutzman 
and Leatherman were present in 1763 at the Conestogo 

13. J. Maurice Henry, History of the Church of the Brethren in Maryland (Elgin: 
Brethren Publishing House, 1936), pages 57-66. Hereinafter cited as Henry, Brethren in 


congregation in Pennsylvania. 14 Unfortunately, no indication 
is given about the addresses of these leaders of the church ; by 
this time Stutzman might well have been living in Maryland, 
for Leatherman had moved to Maryland, or possibly even in 
North Carolina. 

On September 1, 1764, Jacob Stutzman of Rowan County, 
North Carolina completed the purchase of two hundred thirty 
acres on the headwaters of the Uwharrie River from Henry 
Eustace McCullouch. At about the same time, numerous other 
German families that very likely were Brethren were buying 
land from McCullouch in the same general area including 
David, Jacob, John, and Michael Fouts (Pfautz), Andrew 
Hoover, John Mast (possibly Mennonite), Adam Varner, and 
Jacob Schwartz. 15 Although the evidence is not clear-cut, it 
seems possible that the Michael Fouts may have been the very 
prominent Brethren minister in Pennsylvania, Hans Michael 
Pfautz; if so, he was very likely the earliest leader of this 
Brethren settlement on the Uwharrie River in North Carolina. 
Since he was in North Carolina at least a year and a half 
earlier than Stutzman according to the land records, Stutzman 
might have replaced Pfautz after the latter returned to 
Pennsylvania. At any rate, it is quite clear from the land 
records that a considerable group of Brethren were moving 
from Pennsylvania into the Uwharrie River section of North 
Carolina at least as early as the early 1760's. 

It is also quite certain that these Brethren remained in this 
area for a number of years with Jacob Stutzman as their 
leader. At about the same time that Morgan Edwards iden- 
tified Stutzman as the leader of the Ewarry congregation, a 
Moravian missionary, George Soelle, was visiting Stutzman 
and recording: "The Baptist preacher and teacher in this 

14. Donald F. Durnbaugh, editor, The Brethren in Colonial America (Elgin: The 
Brethren Press, 1967), page 266. Hereinafter cited as Durnbaugh, Brethren in Colonial 

15. Rowan County Deed Books, Microfilm, Dr. John Scott Davenport, VI II, 387, for 
Stutzman deed. See also Deed Book V, 332-333, 334, 335, 336, 338, 342, 343, 415 and 484 for 
deeds of Foutses, Mast, Hoover, Varner and Schwartz. 


Abbott's Creek neighborhood was Stotsmann, 'an earnest, 
serious loyal man.' " 16 That he was identified as a Baptist is 
not particularly surprising, since even Baptist historians like 
Edwards accepted the Brethren as a type of Baptists. The 
location in the Abbott's Creek territory is also quite 
reasonable, because the Uwharrie River and Abbott's Creek 
run roughly parallel and rather close together on the east side 
of the Yadkin River. 

Reporting in greater detail on his visit, Soelle wrote in his 
diary: "I planned to visit with the teacher of the Taufgesinn- 
ten (Anabaptist) and others, but Mr. Stotsmann-that was the 
teacher's name-anticipated me, as he came to me in good 
time and stayed until afternoon. There was much to talk about, 
and to answer. He is an earnest and a serious young man, who 
means well, as far as he knows." As a Moravian, Soelle would 
naturally have been somewhat suspicious of the religious 
ideas of such groups as the Brethren and the Baptists. 
However, Soelle must have seen at least some hope in this 
man, for he continued: "You might say he is a young John who 
as yet lacks simplicity of faith in the heart of God, and is 
therefore ensnared in the works of the law which causes much 
darkness in his mind. In leaving he invited me to visit him in 
his house, that he might tell me more about his condition, and I 
promised to do so." 17 

Soelle did visit Stutzman two days later and reported: 
"Visited Mr. Stotzman, who received me in friendly fashion. I 
conversed with the man and his wife, who laid much stress on 
self-denial. I answered that self-denial is the fruit of faith as an 
apple of the tree, and cannot be produced until a man 
believes." Soelle believed that one of the "great mistakes" of 
his own day and age was that "men moved too rapidly with an 

16. Adelaide L. Fries and Others, editors, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina 

(Raleigh: North Carolina Historical Commission [State Department of Archives and 
History 1 ,11 volumes, 1922- 1969), 11, 798. Hereinafter cited as Fries and others, Records of 
the Moravians. 

17. G. W. Paschal, History of North Carolina Baptists (Raleigh : The General Board, 
North Carolina Baptist Convention, 1955), 11, 186-187. 


awakened soul, and while it still hangs in the balance, it is 
treated as believing, and this is the reason that many are 
counted living who are dead, and that they sink back into their 
former sleep." Emphasizing the importance of a proper 
amount of education for the new Christian, Soelle concluded: 
"Let the tree be good, and the fruit would be good also." 18 
Evidently, the visit was a cordial one, for Stutzman asked 
Soelle to return for another visit. 

Five months later in July, 1772, Soelle did call again, but 
unfortunatly neither Stutzman nor his wife was at home. 
Soelle talked "with his grown children, and felt sorry for the 
young people, who were as hard as stones because they have 
not been led to Jesus." 19 Unfortunately, the terms "grown 
children" and "young people" are not very helpful in in- 
dicating how old the parents were. The Moravians, whom 
Soelle represented, baptized infants, so any unbaptized person 
beyond infancy would have been as "hard as stones" 
Although the Brethren and the Moravians had the common 
heritage of a German ancestry, their religious views were 
quite far apart in many ways. 

In addition to Stutzman, Soelle identified Jacob Roth as a 
Brethren who lived "toward the Juvare." Roth was so im- 
pressed with Soelle 's preaching and the Moravians in general 
that he considered selling his land "in order to move nearer 
the settlement" of the Moravians, but Soelle advised against 
such a step. 20 

At one home where Soelle spent the night in this neigh- 
borhood, many people gathered to discuss their religious 
ideas. Soelle recorded: "These people are of a definite 
species, and remind me of the crow in Esop's Fable, which 
made itself great with the feathers of other birds. They have 
Moravian, Dunkard, Separatist, Baptist principles, know 
everything and know nothing, despise others, hold to no one, 

18. Ibid. 

19. Ibid. 

20. Fries and others, Records of the Moravians, 1 1 , 794-795. 


and reject all others. With only one soul was there an op- 
portunity to really speak; and she was the only one to ask me 
to come again to this neighborhood." 21 Evidently, much 
religious uncertainty prevailed in this particular area, where 
the sectarian groups were numerous. 

On another trip into this general area in August, 1772, 
Soelle had another experience with the dogmatism of these 
eighteenth century Brethren: 

Scarcely had Soelle reached the church next day 
when an old Dunkard came up and began to discuss 
Infant Baptism, warning Soelle against it. While they 
were talking a man came to ask for the baptism of his 
child, as he did not wish to have it baptized by a minister 
of the Reformed Church, -and the Dunkard went away 
in disgust, and after some conversation with the father 
Soelle promised to baptize the child, which he did after 
making an address on the sacrament of Baptism. The 
old Dunkard looked and listened, and exclaimed: "0 
what a pity! The last has spoiled the former!" But the 
people thanked him repeatedly for what they had heard 
and begged him to come again. n 

If there was any tenet about which the Brethren had strong 
convictions during the first two hundred years of their 
existence, it was their form of baptism, and this matter did 
more to separate them from other Christians than any other 

In the same places where Soelle discovered extensive 
religious agitation, he very likely also found much political 
agitation, for this was the period of the Regulator Movement in 
North Carolina history. The climax of the movement had come 
with the Battle of Alamance in May, 1771, a few months before 
Soelle's journey to the Abbott's Creek settlement. Although 

21. Ibid. 

22. Ibid., page 798. 


the Germans generally did not participate actively in the 
Battle of Alamance, they undoubtedly were disturbed by the 
same causes which led many of the settlers to take up arms. In 
a list of eight hundred eighty-three identified Regulators 
compiled by Elmer D. Johnson, very few German names and 
no known Brethren names appeared. 23 That no Brethren were 
active participants in the Battle of Alamance is of course not 
surprising, since the Brethren were all pacifists. 

The pacifism of the Brethren was severely tested by the 
coming of the American War of Independence in 1775. In spite 
of their religious differences, the Brethren and the Moravians 
had one big similarity as they faced the coming of the war: 
Neither group would allow its members to participate actively 
as soldiers on either side of the conflict. Although some in- 
dividuals with some kind of a relationship to the Moravians 
evidently served in the militia, they were not members in the 
fullest sense. With the Brethren, one was either a member or 
not and one did not stay a member if he accepted militia duty. 
The Brethren had followed this policy consistently from the 
day of their establishment in Germany in 1708, while the 
Moravians on the other hand had been quite inconsistent, as 
evinced by the establishment of their own private militia (or 
its equivalent) as recently as the French and Indian War. 24 

On another matter relating to the coming of the war and 
its ensuing problems, the two groups agreed that they would 
insist on taking an affirmation rather than an oath, but they 
disagreed on the form of the affirmation for very basic 
reasons. The Moravians insisted that they could not accept the 

23. Elmer D. Johnson, "The War of the Regulation: Its Place in History," Un- 
published master's thesis, the University of North Carolina, 1942, appendix III, pages 
[155] - 173; see also, F. Wilbur Helmbold, "Religious Aspects of the Regulator Movement 
in North Carolina (1765-1771)," unpublished paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the 
requirements for the course in American Colonial History and the Revolution in the 
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Duke University, June, 1953, in the Carolina 
Collection of the University of North Carolina Library. 

24. Fries and others, Records of the Moravians, III, 1100; 1, 182; on the Brethren, see 
Rufus D. Bowman, The Church of the Brethren and War (Elgin: Brethren Publishing 
House, 1944), pages 64-100. 


original affirmation drafted for their use by the North 
Carolina government because of its clause abjuring the King 
of England, which in their eyes meant that they could never 
again serve as missionaries in a territory controlled by Great 
Britain such as the West Indies. When this clause was finally 
eliminated by the government after much pressure from the 
Moravians, they happily accepted the revised affirmation. 25 
Like the Quakers and the Mennonites, to which groups their 
ideas were much more closely related, the Brethren refused to 
accept the affirmation because they did not believe in political 
revolution. The Annual Meeting, which was the governing 
body of all of the Brethren, stated this position in 1779: 

On account of taking the attest, it has been con- 
cluded in unison as follows : Inasmuch as it is the Lord 
our God who establishes kings and removes kings, and 
ordains rulers according to his own good pleasure, and 
we cannot know whether God has rejected the king and 
chosen the state, while the king had the government; 
therefore, we could not, with a good conscience, 
repudiate the king and give allegiance to the state. 26 

As a result of this policy, in Randolph County, North Carolina, 
Jacob Stutzman I and Jacob Stutzman II refused to take the 
Oath of Allegiance or to return a list of their taxable property 
in 1779. 27 

Generally, the North Carolina authorities took a rather 
tolerant attitude toward the non-conformist ideas of the 
Moravians, the Brethren, the Quakers and the Mennonites, 

25. Ibid., Ill, 1100, 1384, 1289-1290. 

26. Minutes of the Annual Meetings of the Church of the Brethren, 1778-1909 (Elgin: 
Brethren Publishing House, 1909), pages 5-6. Hereinafter cited as Minutes of the Annual 

27. List of those refusing to take and give inventory, Tax List, 1779, Randolph County, 
North Carolina. From Dr. John Scott Davenport. 


who were almost always grouped together in the laws of the 
state. With regard to military service, the state was willing to 
accept the idea that these individualists would not make very 
good soldiers any way, so it agreed to exempt them from 
military service provided they paid a fine of twenty-five 
pounds. This provision was later modified by sutstituting for 
the fine, the requirement of finding a substitute for each 
sectarian who refused military service. If they refused to 
secure a substitute, as was certainly true of the Quakers and 
probably true of the Brethren, the local officials were em- 
powered to hire substitutes and "levy the Sum given for such 
Man or Men on the Goods and Chattels, Lands and Tenements, 
of any Person belonging to such Sect, as shall refuse or fail to 
find a Man or Men agreeable to this Act." 28 

In addition to the penalties for refusing to accept military 
service, special taxes were levied on these non-resistant 
sectarians. The Moravians protested to the state authorities 
that they would prefer to pay a tax rather than a fine for their 
refusal to accept militia duty. The state legislators accepted 
this idea and levied a three-fold tax on all Quakers, Moravians, 
Brethren, and Mennonites, and any others who refused to take 
the oath of allegiance. Furthermore, "if any person coming 
within either of the aforesaid denominations, or refusing to 
take the oath as aforesaid, shall fail to return an inventory of 
his taxable property according to law, the person so failing 
shall pay four times the tax which shall be assessed on persons 
in this State who comply in every respect with the laws 
thereof." Although the intentions of the legislators were not 
clear, some tax collectors tried to collect a twelve-fold tax on 
these individuals over a period of five years until the 
legislature finally decided that it had intended for a four-fold 
tax to be the maximum. For example, in Rowan County the 
Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in February, 1780, ordered 
"that Nicholas Leatherman, John Seares, and Xtian 

28. Walter Clark, editor, The State Records of North Carolina (Winston and Gold 
sboro: State of North Carolina, 16 volumes, numbered XI-XXVI, 1895-1914), XXIV, 117, 
156. Hereinafter cited as Clark, State Records. 


[Christian] Leatherman Dunkers in the same District 
[Hopewell] be released from a 12 fold tax to a 3 fold tax." 29 
These Dunkers were members of the Ewarry congregation, 
for the Leather mans were neighbors of Jacob Stutzman. 

In general the treatment of these non-resistant groups 
seems to have been more lenient in North Carolina than it was 
in the other states with considerable numbers of these groups, 
such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. At any rate, the 
official policy of the government of North Carolina was ad- 
mirably stated in the resolutions which were included with the 
revisions of the affirmation sought by the Moravians: "That 
as the end of all government is to make every member of the 
Community equally happy, and as in a State settled by people 
of different Religions this equality of political Happiness is 
inseparable from an Indulgence to those whose religious 
Opinions make them object to the usual form of promising 
fidelity to the State." 30 With the laws and actions of the North 
Carolina government based on such an attitude of tolerance, it 
is not surprising that various Brethren families emigrated 
from Pennsylvania and Maryland to North Carolina. 

The Ewarry congregation led by Jacob Stutzman 
evidently prospered in the years immediately following the 
end of the War of Independence. Stutzman himself secured 
considerable additional land in the 1790's both by state land 
grants and by purchase from others, including Valentine 
Beard and Christian Leatherman. However, by the end of 1801, 
he had sold most of his property in North Carolina and had 
emigrated to Clark County, Indiana along the Ohio River. 31 
Most of the Brethren in the Ewarry congregation were also 
moving westward at about the same time, including numerous 

29. Fries and others, Records of the Moravians, III, 1206-1208; Clark, State Records, 
XXIV, 204,434; Rowan County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, February term, 1780, 
from Dr. John Scott Davenport. 

30. Clark, State Records, XIII, 550-551. 

31. Rowan County Deed Books, XI 1 1, 641,776,778,967-968; XVII, 318-319; XXI, 651-652; 
XIV, 464-465; Stutzman's emigration to Indiana has been documented from the Clark 
County, Indiana land records by Dr. John Scott Davenport. 


families of Hoovers and Foutses. The reasons for the 
migration included the desire for better land since the land 
along the Uwharrie River was evidently not very productive, 
the need to escape from the legal harrassment which the 
courts in Randolph County were beginning about 1795, and the 
unsettled religious conditions among the Brethren which will 
be discussed in more detail later in this story. 


Edwards' third society of Tunker-baptists in North 
Carolina was known as the Yadkin or the Atkin ; it was located 
on the north branch of the Peedee River "further from the 
fork" and SbW from New Bern. The big question about this 
description is which fork of the river, since numerous locations 
would seem to fit this general description. "The ministers 
Hans and Conrad Kearn. The families about 29 whereof 40 
persons are baptized." 32 Like Stutzman, these two ministers 
can be specifically located in the colony of North Carolina, but 
their background is completely obscure. Robert Ramsey in his 
doctoral dissertation on the northwest Carolina frontier 
suggested that the Kerns might have come from a German 
settlement in Loudoun County, Virginia, but no Brethren are 
known to have lived in that area during this period. 33 Ac- 
cording to the tremendous Strassburger-Hinke compilation, 
two Conrad Kerns arrived in America: one on October 25, 1738 
and a second on October 1, 1754. 34 Which of these (or whether 
either) was the Dunker elder of Rowan County cannot be 
determined from the available evidence. 

32. Edwards, "Materials." 

33. Robert W. Ramsey, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina 
Frontier, 1747-1762 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1964), page 92. See 
also, "The Pennsylvania Germans in Loudoun County, Virginia," Pennsylvania German 
Magazine, IX (1908), 3:125-133. 

34. Ralph Beaver Strassburger and William J. Hinke, Pennsylvania German 
Pioneers (Norristown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 3 volumes, 1934), I, 234, 628. 


The earliest record indicating Conrad Kern's presence in 
North Carolina was a Rowan County deed from his uncle, 
Conrod Michel, conveying three hundred eight acres of land on 
both sides of Crane Creek on August 2-3, 1762. Eventually, over 
a period of some thirty years, Kern secured several other 
pieces of land in the general area. 35 That he and John (Hans) 
were brothers was confirmed in a complicated document 
involving their uncle, Conrod Michel, who made a trip back to 
Germany and had died somewhere along the way, leaving 
these two brothers as his heirs. 36 A number of transactions 
involved the members of the Kern family, who bought and sold 
land located in the Crane Creek area of Rowan County on the 
west side of the Yadkin River. 37 This area which is south of the 
"Forks of the Yadkin" in which the North Yadkin divides from 
the South Yadkin and north of the forks in which the Yadkin 
divides from the Rocky River is the specific location of 
Morgan Edwards' Yadin or Atkin congregation of the 
Brethren in North Carolina. 

Both Conrad and John Kern prepared wills to provide for 
the distribution of their extensive estates, although the in- 
dication is that they had already taken care of some of their 
sons. Conrad's will was drawn on December 20, 1807, when he 
was "in perfect health and sound mind," and probated in 
November, 1812. An interesting aspect of the will is its concern 
for two grandchildren, Joel and Marymagdalane, who were 
the children of a deceased daughter, Elizabeth, and Daniel 
Stotsmann. This marriage to a man who was quite probably 
the son of Jacob Stutzman, the minister of the Ewarry 
congregation, is an excellent illustration of the movement of 
Brethren families back and forth among congregations and 
the requirement that children had to marry within the 
fellowship. 38 John Kern's will was signed, also in legible 

35. Rowan County Deed Books, IV, 924-925; VII, 80-81; VIII, 347-348; IX, 488-489; X, 
357 358; XI, 636 637. 

36. Ibid., VIM, 550-554. 

37. lbid.,VIII, 138-139; XI 1 1, 217-218; XVI 1 1, 45,984-986. 

38. Rowan County Will Books, G, 238-241. 


English, on June 25, 1818, and probated in November, 1823. 39 
Nothing in any of these legal documents indicates any relation 
to any religious group, and no other evidence concerning the 
religious activities of these Yadkin Brethren has come to light. 

However, much additional evidence has been discovered 
concerning another Brethren clan which lived for a time as 
neighbors of the Kerns. On February 7, 1775, James Hendricks, 
a wheelwright of Rowan County, purchased three hundred 
forty-nine acres on the Middle Fork of Crane Creek from 
George Smith and Richard Walton. This tract had been 
granted by the Earl of Granville to Peter Smith on August 23, 
1759; Hendricks had paid three hundred pounds to Peter 
Smith, and his executors Walton and George Smith were now 
settling accounts with Hendricks. 40 Although there is no 
positive evidence that this James Hendricks was a Brethren in 
North Carolina, the evidence regarding the family in Penn- 
sylvania before they came to North Carolina and in Kentucky 
after they left North Carolina clearly indicates the family ties 
with the Brethren. 

The Hendricks family had extensive ties with the Quakers, 
the Mennonites,and the Brethren in Pennsylvania and to some 
extent in Europe. A Laurens Hendriks is identified as the 
preacher of the Mennonite community at Nijmegen in the 
Netherlands, and in 1685 Gerhard Hendricks with his wife, 
Mary, and his daughter, Sarah, arrived in America from his 
home in Krisheim. 41 This Gerhard Hendricks three years 
later signed a statement protesting the evils of the slave trade, 
which was evidently drawn up by a group of Mennonites at 
Germantown and sent to the Philadelphia Friends. Samuel W. 
Pennypacker, the eminent Pennsylvania historian, described 
this statement as "the first public protest ever made on this 

39. Ibid., H, 248-250. 

40. Rowan County Deed Books, VIM, 259-261. 

41. J. G. De Hoop Scheffer, "Mennonite Emigration to Pennsylvania," translation 
from the Doopsgezinde Bijdragen, 1869, in Samuel W. Pennypacker, Historical and 
Biographical Sketches (Philadelphia: Robert A. Tripple, 1883), page 183; see also in 
formation supplied by Pennypacker, pages 35-36, in the same volume. 


continent against the holding of slaves. A little rill there 
started which further on became an immense torrent, and 
whenever hereafter men trace analytically the causes which 
led to Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Appomattox they will begin with 
the tender consciences of the linen weavers and husbandmen 
of Germantown." 42 

The Philadelphia records of the Friends reveal the 
presence of a number of members of the Hendricks family in 
the early years of the eighteenth century. Of most interest to 
this study, however, are those who moved into the interior of 
Lancaster and York counties. In a careful study, Abdel Ross 
Wentz of Gettysburg College described in great detail the first 
"authorized" settlement in present-day York County which 
was made when John Hendricks moved across the 
Susquehanna River in 1728. Other pioneers had settled in this 
area as early as 1721, but they had been removed by the 
authorities. In 1731 he was joined by his brother, James, who 
was accidentally shot and killed by their father, James, in 1732 
while they were hunting turkeys. Wentz also examined 
carefully the traditional claim that the first settlement in York 
County was made by Englishmen--the Hendricks. He con- 

It is highly probable, but remains without positive 
proof, that these Hendrickses were of German descent, 
that their ancestors one or two generations previous 
were Mennonites in Switzerland or in the Rhine Valley 
and had fled before persecution and found refuge in 
England; that there they quickly associated themselves 
with their English brethren in the faith, the Quakers, and 
with them came to America. In this case they might be 
called Englishmen of German descent, and this would 
account for their German spirit of enterprise in pushing 
across the Susquehanna and locating where they did, 

42. Ibid., pages 42-44. 


while at the same time it would account for their English 
associations and the English form of their Christian 
names. Certain it is that soon after their location in York 
County the Hendrickses were close associates of the 
Germans who followed them into the county. They 
sympathized with them in times of adversity and 
cooperated with them in matters of religion. But while 
there were these strong bonds of sympathy and 
cooperation, perhaps even ties of blood between these 
pioneer Hendrickses and the early Germans in the 
county, nevertheless the places from which they came, 
their associates before their migration, together with 
the other evidence in the case, seem to leave little room 
for doubt that John and James Hendricks were regarded 
as Englishmen when they crossed the Susquehanna. 43 

Wentz's conclusion has been quoted at length in order to ex- 
plain how the members of the Hendricks family came to play 
such an important role as Brethren in the century from 1750 to 

The manner in which the Hendrickses first became 
Brethren is not certain, but certain evidence needs to be 
considered. Morgan Edwards in his previously cited history of 
the Little Conewago congregation in York County stated that 
"Their beginning was in 1738 when one Eldrick, Dierdorff, 
Bigler, Gripe, Studsman and others united into a church." The 
name Eldrick is a puzzling one, for there is no similar name in 
any of the Brethren records of the eighteenth century. The 
suspicion is that the name ought to be Hendricks, since 
members of the family were living in this area in close 
proximity to the Brethren during the 1730's. Michael Tanner, 
in particular, was a Brethren who had come to America in 

43. Abdel Ross Wentz, The Beginnings of the German Element in York County, 
Pennsylvania (Lancaster, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1916), pages 24-36. 
Hereinafter cited as Wentz, York County. 


September, 1727, with Daniel Leatherman. First, he "took out a 
patent for two hundred acres of land near the farm of John 
Hendricks in west Lancaster County," according to J. M. 
Henry, who was especially interested in Tanner's career. 
Then, he was one of "the first Dutch [! ] settlers west of the 
Susquehanna River," and became involved in the extensive 
legal turmoil between the Penns and the Carrolls regarding 
the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland. At this 
time, Tanner was living six miles southwest of the John 
Hendricks residence. 44 At any rate, it is certain that the 
Tanner family and the Hendricks family were acquainted and 
probably associated in the frontier settlements in York 

According to Morgan Edwards, one of the ministers of the 
Little Conewago congregation in 1770 was James Henrick. No 
indication is given by Edwards of the background of this man, 
but the suspicion is that he was the same individual described 
by Wentz as a Quaker and a carpenter, who lived in the 
western part of Lancaster County in 1732-1733 and who was 
employed by James Patterson in 1733 to make trips across the 
Susquehanna River to take care of Patterson's horses. Fur- 
thermore, in two depositions which he made regarding the 
border difficulties west of the river, he made his mark for a 
signature. 45 Henry understood that the James Hendrick, who 
was the minister of the Little Conewago congregation, of which 
Michael Tanner was a member in 1770, was "formerly a 
Quaker and the close neighbor of Michael Tanner." 46 This 
description also fits the James Hendricks who turned up in 
Rowan County, North Carolina in 1775. He was a wheelwright, 
which was a specialized kind of carpentry ; furthermore, in the 
marriage of John Hendricks to Sarah Lewis on December 27, 
1780, the bondsman was James Hendricks who made his 

44. Henry, Brethren in Maryland, pages 34-36. 

45. Wentz, York County, page 31. 

46. Henry, Brethren in Maryland, page 39. 


signature with a mark. 47 This John Hendricks was identified 
as the son of James Hendricks in a transaction of June 2, 1798 
in which John sold four lots in the town of Salisbury to William 
Hendrix; these lots had become the property of John Hen- 
dricks as part of his legasee from his father, James Hendricks, 
deceased. 48 Unfortunately, no will of James Hendricks nor 
any land sales by him have been discovered in order to check 
the method by which he made his signature. 

How long James Hendricks lived in North Carolina is 
uncertain. Two sales of land to James Hendricks in 1780 and in 
1787 were for land adjacent to his initial purchase on Crane 
Creek in 1775. 49 A James Hendrick is listed in the Census of 
1790, although the Hendricks clan by that time was living in a 
different area of Rowan County on Dutchman's Creek in the 
Forks of the Yadkin. Of course, one major problem which is 
almost impossible for the historian to solve with the available 
information is the fact that the Hendricks family used the 
names James and John in every generation so that after 
several generations there were probably several individuals 
with these names in each generation ; it is therefore possible 
that several different individuals with the name James may 
be involved in these events in Pennsylvania and in North 

The third of Morgan Edwards' congregations in North 
Carolina in the Crane Creek area west of the Yadkin River 
evidently came to an end as did the Catawba and Ewarry 
congregations as the result of a combination of factors in- 
cluding the death of the Kerns and the emigration of other 
leaders including the Hendrickses. The pressure of neigh- 
boring religious groups such as the Baptists and the 
Methodists also must have entered into the picture. 

47. Rowan County Marriage Bonds, I, 192. 

48. Rowan County Deed Books, XVII, 70-71. 

49. Ibid., IX, 121 123; XI, 218. 



At the same time that the Brethren were establishing 
settlements in North Carolina during the second half of the 
eighteenth century, they were also establishing several set- 
tlements in neighboring South Carolina. In his introduction to 
the history of the Baptists in South Carolina, Morgan Edwards 
stated that "In 1748 a few Tunker baptists from Con- 
necocheague came into the northwest parts about the waters 
of Santee." He amplified this statement in Part IV, which 
"Treats of the Tunker-baptists in South Carolina" : "About the 
year 1748 Michael Millers, Jacob Canomore, Lawrence Free, 
with their wives arrived hither from Connecocheague." 50 This 
point of origin was a Brethren settlement in Maryland which 
had been established in 1743. Of these three families the Miller 
family bore the most distinctively Brethren name; for 
example, Edwards listed Millers as members of seven of the 
fifteen Brethren congregations in Pennsylvania. The name, 
Canomore, however, is not found in any possible form in Ed- 
wards' list of the Pennsylvania Brethren. Free is probably a 
form of Frey or Fray; Christian Fray was a member of the 
Conewago congregation in Pennsylvania in 1770. Of course, the 
fact that Edwards did not provide the names of the members 
of the Connecocheague congregtion from which these South 
Carolina Brethren had emigrated is a handicap in providing a 
more definite identification of their background. 

These Brethren families probably departed from their 
friends and relatives in Frederick County, Maryland because 
of their desire to secure inexpensive, virgin soil on the frontier 
of South Carolina. At any rate, it did not take them long to 
stake out claims in their new location. According to Townsend, 
who studied the Tunkers in her doctoral dissertation on the 
Baptists in South Carolina, "Jacob Canamore (Gannamer) 
and Lawrence Free . . . had surveys respectively of 350 and 400 

50. Edwards, "Materials." 


acres on Wilkingses Branch and Wilkinsons Creek in 1752; ... 
Michael Miller 200 acres on the north side of Broad River on 
Beaverdam Creek in 1755 and 100 acres on small branches of 
Sandy Run in 1766." 51 In the various documents which 
Meriwether cited, Free is identified as a Pennsylvanian, and 
Canomore is identified as Free's "former acquaintance." 52 
These statements seem to place more emphasis on the Penn- 
sylvania background of these South Carolina Brethren than on 
the Maryland background proposed by Edwards. Really, this 
uncertainty is not very important anyway, since these 
Brethren usually stopped for a time to visit relatives in the 
various settlements on their way south and west. 

What these Brethren found in South Carolina must have 
pleased them, for they were joined by other Brethren during 
the 1750's. Edwards reported that "after them came Rev. 
George Martin and wife, and Hans Waggoner and wife." A bit 
later in his discussion, Edwards noted that David Martin, who 
was quite probably the son of George Adam Martin, arrived in 
South Carolina in 1754. With a minister present, the Brethren 
"united in communion in the month of July 1759," according to 
Edwards, who added that they "increased fast." 53 Townsend 
indicated that in 1757 Hans Wagoner had a survey of one 
hundred fifty acres on a branch of Little Creek in the fork of 
Broad and Saluda Rivers, but for George Martin she was 
unable to locate any land survey. 54 

George Adam Martin, as he is usually known, was a very 
important and in many ways unusual itinerant preacher 
among the Brethren in America during the eighteenth cen- 
tury. The most recent student of Martin's life, H. Austin 
Cooper, who has written an unpublished biography, noted that 

51. Leah Townsend, South Carolina Baptists: 1670-1805 (Florence, South Carolina: 
The Florence Printing Company, 1935), page 167. Hereinafter cited as Towsend, South 
Carolina Baptists. 

52. Robert L. Meriwether, The Expansion of South Carolina, 1729-1765 (Kingsport, 
Tennessee : Southern Publishers, Inc., 1940), page 148. Hereinafter cited as Meriwether, 
South Carolina. 

53. Edwards, "Materials." 

54. Townsend, South Carolina Baptists, pages 167-168. 


Martin "went on missionary tours to the Colonies as far north 
as Maine, south to North Carolina, Virginia, present West 
Virginia and often into Maryland taking the Gospel of 
evangelism everywhere he went. He did not believe in riding a 
horse but walked thousands of miles each year on these 
missionary tours to the back country of our colonies." 55 
Briefly, Martin was born near Lundsthal in Germany in 1715 
and came to America in 1729. At that time he was a member of 
the Reformed Church, but in 1735 he was baptized as a 
Brethren by Peter Becker. His leadership potential was 
evidently recognized immediately, for in the same year he was 
ordained as an elder. His itinerancy is indicated again by the 
fact that before his South Carolina residence, he had been 
connected with the Coventry, Conestoga, Little Conewago, and 
Conewago congregations in Pennsylvania and with the An- 
tietam congregation in Maryland. 

For about five years in the 1750's George Adam Martin 
was the leader of the Beaver Creek congregation in South 
Carolina, as it was called, but by 1760 he was back in Penn- 
sylvania where he got into difficulty in the Conewago 
congregation. Consequently, he led some sixty members in the 
establishment of the new Bermudian congregation. The crux 
of the matter was the strictness with which certain sectarian 
practices such as the closed communion and the ban were to 
be enforced. Added to these issues was Martin's attitude which 
was characterized by his declaration that "everybody who 
knew me considered me a great doctor of Holy Writ." His 
activities and attitude were considered sinful by the older 
leadership of the sect, and therefore, Martin was 
disfellowshiped and subjected to the ban. 

In reaction to his disfellowshiping Martin took two steps : 
In the first place he tied himself more closely to the schismatic 
group of Brethren led by Conrad Beissel, the leader and 

55. H. Austin Cooper, "Pastor's Report to the Congregation," Church Directory, 
Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren, Berlin, Pennsylvania, 1953-1954, page 14. At the 
time he wrote this statement, Cooper did not know of Edwards' account of the Brethren in 
South Carolina. 


founder of the Ephrata community. The most distinctive 
characteristics of the Ephrata Brethren were their emphasis 
on celibacy as the highest form of Christian life and their 
acceptance of the seventh day as the proper time for Christian 
worship. This Sabbatarianism, as it is known, spread widely 
among the Brethren settlements and had its impact in South 
Carolina as will be noted. In the second place, Martin led a 
group of sympathetic Brethren across the mountains to 
establish the first Brethren congregation in Somerset County, 
Pennsylvania in 1762. Here Martin spent the remaining thirty 
years of his life, although he continued to travel widely. M. G. 
Brumbaugh, one of the first scholarly historians of the Church 
of the Brethren, summarized Martin's career in these words: 
"He was a Taufer [Brethren] at heart and a lover of God's 
ordinances, but he was a rash, impulsive, impatient man. He 
possessed an unusual mind, well trained in German and in 
Latin, was a logical reasoner, a profound speaker, and a ready 
writer." 56 

Not surprisingly, George Adam Martin's influence on the 
South Carolina Brethren was very great. The most important 
leader of these Brethren on the southern frontier was David 
Martin, who was probably a son of George Adam. David 
Martin was born on October 8, 1737 at Conestogo, according to 
Morgan Edwards. For a time at least, George Adam Martin 
lived at Conestogo, although the exact dates are unknown. 
When George Adam returned to Pennsylvania, David 
remained in South Carolina as the shepherd of the flock. He 
married a local girl named Ann Lessley, who quite possibly 
was the daughter of James Leslie, a settler on Little River and 
evidently a friend of John Pearson, whom Edwards considered 
an assistant of David Martin. By 1772 when Edwards visited 

56. This biographical sketch of Martin is based on H. Austin Cooper, Two Centuries of 
the Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren, 1762-1962 (Westminister, Maryland: The 
Times, Inc., 1962), pages 115, 120-122, 124-125, and Martin Grove Brumbaugh, A History of 
the German Baptist Brethren in Europe and America (Mount Morris, Illinois: Brethren 
Publishing House, 1899), pages 330-332. Hereinafter cited as Brumbaugh, German Baptist 


David Martin, the latter had three children, Esther, Catherine, 
and David. According to his will, he eventually had eight 
children, including in addition to these three, George, Solomon, 
Samuel, Deborough, and Ruth. 57 Edwards was quite favorably 
impressed with this Brethren minister, for he recorded: "He 
bears an excellent character; . . . Mr. Martin has the happy 
cast of mind that he is facecious and devout at the same time." 
At the time of Edwards' visit, David Martin was taking 
steps to provide for the financial support of his growing 
family. In 1770 he secured a survey of one hundred acres on the 
road from Ross's Mill to Grant's Ferry on Wrights Branch on 
the south side of Wateree River, and three years later he 
secured another survey of one hundred acres on a branch of 
Beaver Creek of Broad River, bordering on the land of John 
Godfrey, Thomas Medows, and the estate of William Mobley. 
Townsend considered this latter location "the center of 
religious activity of the group," which is reasonable since 
Edwards described Beaver Creek as "a little brook running 
into Broad River on the north side." 58 


David Martin was an active leader of the Brethren in 
South Carolina. By 1772 the Beaver Creek settlement included 
twenty-five families and fifty baptized members. Very likely, 
some of these members represented non-German Carolinians 
who associated with the Brethren because of Martin's 
preaching. At any rate, Martin did not hesitate to preach to 
non-Germans and non-Brethren, for as Townsend indicated, 
"In 1768 Rev. David Martin went into the region about Clouds 
Creek, where he found some English Dunkers and Seventh 
Day Baptists, to whom he preached and administered com- 

57. Will of David Martin, Newberry County Wills, A, 237, cited in George Leland 
Summer, Newberry County South Carolina Historical and Genealogical (Privately 
printed, 1950), page 461. Hereinafter cited as Summer, Newberry County. 

58. Townsend, South Carolina Baptists, page 167. 


munion. By 1772 there was a congregation of thirty families 
with forty -two baptized communicants." 59 In addition, Ed- 
wards noted that these Brethren along Clouds Creek were 
English rather than German; some of these members, he 
added, were seventh day baptists from the neighborhood, who 
will be described in more detail later in this story. One of the 
prominent charter members was Snowden Kirkland and the 
local leader of the society in 1772 was James Warren, "who 
exhorts among them." Townsend found land surveys for both 
Snowden Kirkland and James Warren ; the latter had surveys 
of two hundred acres in 1770 on Clouds Creek, bordering the 
land of John Williams and Captain Benjamin Tutt and of one 
hundred fifty acres in 1773 in St. Paul's Parish. 60 


In addition to the Clouds Creek congregation which David 
Martin helped to organize in 1768, his work extended further 
down the Edisto River, where in January, 1770, he baptized 
about ten people and organized them into the Edisto 
congregation. Two families were prominent in this settlement, 
the Elijah Patchet family and the Thomas Taylor family. By 
the time Edwards visited Martin, the Edisto congregation had 
sixteen baptized members from eight families, and Patchet 
was serving as the minister of the group. Like the Clouds 
Creek Brethren, all of these new Brethren were English, 
"some keeping the 1st day some the 7th for sabbath." 
Townsend discovered surveys for Elijah Padgett of two 
hundred acres in 1767 on the waters of Edisto and of two 
hundred acres in 1773 on Clouds Creek of Little Saluda River 
bordering Michael Watson and Thomas Green and for Thomas 
Taylor of two hundred acres in 1769 on the northeast side of 
Edisto near Cattle Creek bordering David Rumph, John 

59. Ibid., page 169. 

60. Ibid. 


Milhouse, and Thomas Pinckney and in 1772 on a branch of the 
northwest fork of Long Cane Creek. 61 

Because of his significant work in South Carolina, David 
Martin was ordained as an elder of the Brethren in September, 
1770 by Daniel Leatherman and Nicholas Martin, the elders of 
the Monocacy and Connecocheague congregations in 
Maryland. Edwards does not reveal where the ordination took 
place, and it seems quite possible that the two Maryland elders 
could have been visiting the congregations in the Carolinas to 
encourage and strengthen them or that Martin could have 
gone to Maryland for this event. Edwards made it clear in his 
discussion of the North Carolina Brethren that Leatherman 
had a special responsibility for all of the Brethren in the 
southern colonies. In addition in his discussion of the Brethren 
in New Jersey, Edwards said of Leatherman: 

Their church government was purely republican as 
I observed in my first volume Ton Pennsylvania in which 
there is an extensive discussion of the Brethren] ; but in 
Maryland (and I suppose in other states) they have a 
superintendent whose name is Daniel Leatherman; to 
him is referred the decision of variances among the 
ministers and the people, and as the Dunkers call all 
their ordained ministers bishops, it follows that 
Leatherman holds the rank of archbishop. 62 

Edwards' interpretation of Leatherman's role indicated 
clearly his importance among the Brethren, although it seems 
unlikely that the Brethren themselves used such a title as 
archbishop. In fact, they rarely ever used the title of bishop, 
preferring to call their highest ranking ministers, elders. 

61. Ibid., page 171. 

62. Morgan Edwards, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists in America 

(Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1792), page 145. 


Regardless of his title, David Martin was certainly the most 
important Brethren leader in South Carolina during the years 
from 1760 until his death in 1794. 

Another Brethren leader who was particularly prominent 
in South Carolina life was David Martin's assistant at Beaver 
Creek, John Pearson. According to Fitz Hugh McMaster, the 
author of a book on Fairfield County, South Carolina, Pearson 
was a "native of Berkshire Co., England, early settled in 
Carolina." 63 He was in Amelia Township, South Carolina in 
1737, and in 1742 he married Philip Raiford's daughter, Mary, 
and settled on a three hundred acre tract near his father-in- 
law on the Congaree River. Here he cleared and cultivated the 
land, and built a house and barn. 

However, Pearson was also a surveyor, and after the death 
of the surveyor, George Haig, at the hands of the Indians in 
1749, "Pearson turned to surveying and became the most 
active of these enterprising developers of the back country." 
Since most of the frontier surveying was being done farther 
west along the Broad and Saluda Rivers, Pearson moved to the 
Broad River in 1755. 64 Here he became a justice of the peace 
and militia captain along with his surveying responsibilities. 
He had located on a high ridge on the west side of the Broad 
River above the mouth of Crims Creek, a site which gave him 
an excellent view of the Broad River valley. As sometimes 
happened to such land speculators, Pearson became bankrupt 
in 1766 and was forced to sell his thirteen hundred acre estate 
on the Broad River; he then moved back to the Congaree 
River settlement. 65 

Pearson's religious interest was clearly indicated in two 
letters to his son, Philip, written in 1764 while he was living 
among the Broad River Brethren. On March 27, he wrote: 

63. Fitz Hugh McMaster, History of Fairfield County, South Carolina (Columbia: The 
State Commercial Printing Company, 1946), page 215. Hereinafter cited as McMaster, 
Fairfield County. 

64. Meriwether, South Carolina,page 60; see also the mapon page 52. 

65. Ibid., pages 156-157. 


in Regard to Your Immortal Soul my dear Son think 
Seriously of Your later End as you See by Experience 
every day one or another Launched into Eternity 
therefore my Dear take care to make your Calling and 
Ellection sure in pertickular my dear remember your 
Creator in the days of your Youth and dont Lett this 
world blind your Eyes but continue in prayers always as 
the Apostle Says-Pray without Ceaseing that pray 
always and Lett your thought be ingaged in heavin 
where you hope to Live in the Enjoyment of God to All 
Eternity which may God for ever Grant Amen 
Remember my Love to Your Grand-Mother and All 
Your Unckles and Aunts and- tell them that I begg they 
will Meditate on the end of there Creation and to work 
out there Salvation with Fear and Trimbling for what 
will be the profit if A Man Gains the whole world and 
Lose his Soul A Dreadfull ease Indeed for A Man to 
forfeit his Soul for the profits of this Life my Dear 
therefore watch & pray continualy Least you fall into 
Temptation which is the Ernest desire & prayer of Your 
Loveing Father till death 

The second extant letter of May 5 was somewhat improved in 
orthography : 

I am to Inform you that our Redeemer has preserved us 
in Health and in the unity of the Spirit, and as God 
through his sparing mercy Allows us the Opportunity to 
meat before him morning and Evening to Celebrate his 
praise, and Offer up prayers and Thanksgiving, to his 
Dreadfull Majesty Who Measures out the Heavens with 
A Span and Weighs the Mountains in a Ballance and 
Contains the Great Waters as in the Hollow of his Hands 
and Who is of purer Eyes than to behold iniquity in Any 
of his Creatures here below he being so pure & Holy yt 
[that] he Charges his Angles with folly and the very 


Heavens are not Clean in his Sight, much more such poor 
polluted Creatures as wee are who were born in sin, and 
brought forth in iniquity and by our Actual Tran- 
sgretions against this mighty God have incurd his 
Displeasure but as JESUS ye [the] Saviour of the World 
hath delighted himself Amoungst ye [the] Sons of men 
our Hope is in him ... as we shall have a great meeting 
on Friday Saturday and Sunday next I desire youl come 
up and I hope Your Grand mother will be permitted to 
come Also Together with some of your Uncles and Aunts 
Pray Call on Your Uncle Mosses as you come up and 
press him and your Aunt Patience to come itt may be for 
there Eternal Wellfare for itt is Good to be where Jesus 
is passing by as poor blind Bartemus found to his 
Eternal Happiness for as wee Are Blind by Nature and 
cannot see the things that belong to our Eternal peace so 
God may make Use of some of our Ministers as a little 
Clay to Open there Eyes that they may Desire Spiritual 
Things for without the Spirit of God wee are none of his 66 

The nature of this "great meeting" is not clear from the 
context of the letter. The Brethren of the eighteenth century 
sometimes called their Annual Meetings, great meetings, 
when they assembled from as many as possible of the local 
congregations to conduct necessary business and to engage in 
a great spiritual revival experience. The time of year in the 
month of May would also fit the usual time for having the 
Annual Meeting. Since the practice of having such meetings 
began in the 1740's as an outgrowth of the threat to the 
Brethren of the Zinzendorf synods in Pennsylvania and since 
no record has been preserved of the location or the business of 

66. These manuscripts were secured from Mrs. George Tomlin of Blair, South 
Carolina, the present owner. I am deeply indebted to her for the use of this very valuable 
material. However, the second portion of the letter of May 5 which I have quoted is 
missing from Mrs. Tomlin's collection. I have taken it from Townsend, South Carolina 
Baptists, page 124. 


the Annual Meeting of 1764, it is at least possible that this 
"great meeting" described by Pearson was the Annual 
Meeting of the Brethren in 1764. On the other hand, it has been 
assumed by Brethren historians that all of the early Annual 
Meetings were held in Pennsylvania; however, there is no 
evidence to support such an assumption. 


The deeply religious John Pearson has been identified 
with the Seventh Day Baptists who lived among the Brethren 
on the Broad River. The establishment of the earliest Brethren 
settlement in South Carolina by George Adam Martin, the 
friend of Conrad Beissel of the Ephrata Seventh Day Brethren, 
would make natural the mingling of first and seventh day 
Brethren in South Carolina. Although these two groups did not 
get along very well together in Pennsylvania in which state 
each group had its greatest strength, as these individuals 
moved toward the frontier, they tended to forget the bitterness 
of feelings in Pennsylvania and to work together more closely 
in facing the harshness and loneliness of life in the back 
country. Julius F. Sachse, who has written the most detailed 
history of the German sectarians in Pennsylvania, sum- 
marized this mingling of the two groups, when he wrote of the 
Brethren in Maryland: "Here, as well as in the Shenandoah 
Valley, the First and Seventh-day Baptists lived side by side 
without any clashing." 67 If he had had more information on 
South Carolina, he would certainly have included it in his list. 

The two groups evidently came to South Carolina at about 
the same time. Meriwether in his study of the South Carolina 
frontier pointed out that "two Pennsylvanians, Thomas Owen 
and Lawrence Free, and Free's 'former acquaintance' Jacob 

67. Julius Friedrich Sachse, The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania, 1742-1800, 
volume II of A Critical and Legendary History of the Ephrata Cloister and the Dunkers 

(Philadelphia: Printed for the Author, 1900), page 457. Hereinafter cited as Sachse, 
German Sectarians. 


Canomore, in 1752 petitioned for land on [Wilkinsons] creek." 68 

Morgan Edwards identified Free and Canomore as Tunkers 
and Owen as a leader of the Seventh Day Baptists. Of the latter 
group, he wrote: "The way in which this society had a 
beginning was by emigrants from Connecocheague im- 
mediately, but originally from French-creek in Pennsylvania 
viz. Thomas Owen and Wife who came here in 1754. Victor 
Nelly and wife who arrived in 1757. John Gregory (and his sons 
Richard and John) from Piscatawa in New Jersey, the same 
year." In these families were to be found the leaders of this 
Seventh Day Brethren settlement for Edwards also reported 
that "these had Rev. Richard Gregory to their minister," and 
"No place of worship; the meeting is held alternately at the 
houses of Thomas Owen and Victor Nelly." 

These individuals lived along the Broad River, according 
to Townsend's examination of the land records. In addition to 
his land on Wilkinsons Creek, Thomas Owen secured two 
hundred fifty acres on the northeast side of Broad River on 
Conaway Creek. Victor Nelly (Naley, Naily) had surveys of 
one hundred fifty acres on a branch of Rocky Creek in 
December, 1756, and of one hundred acres on the Little River of 
Broad River in June, 1759. John Gregory, "an old man," 
arrived in South Carolina from East Jersey in May, 1748, at the 
same time as the earliest of the First Day Brethren and 
requested that his fifty acres be included with the land of his 
son, Benjamin, on Crims Creek. Richard Gregory asked for 
three hundred acres for himself, his wife, and four small 
children on the Wateree Creek, and actually received two 
hundred seventy-eight acres at the junction of Wateree Creek 
and Wateree River. 69 

Actually, the eighteen families from which came the 
twenty-four members of the Broad River Seventh Day 
Brethren congregation were spread out quite widely across 
the frontier of South Carolina. In addition to the Owen, Nelly, 

68. Meriwether, South Carolina, page 148. 

69. Townsend, South Carolina Baptists, pages 172-173. 


and Gregory families which lived on the northeast side of 
Broad River, John Dunckley had land on Burkhalters Creek of 
Broad River and Joseph Smith claimed three hundred acres in 
1763 on Cedar Creek on the north side of the Broad River. 
These families were the most centrally located in terms of the 
total membership of the congregation. A second group of 
families lived along the Wateree River farther east than the 
Broad River. Isaac Aldridge, Sr. and Jr., had four hundred 
acres in two surveys in 1765 and 1768 on the Crooked Creek of 
the Wateree River. William Harris claimed two hundred acres 
on the north side of the Wateree River near Sparrow Spring. 
Matthias (Messias) Fellows had claims of one hundred acres 
in 1765 on the Twenty-Five Mile Creek and of one hundred 
acres on the Taylors Creek in 1771. Richard Kirkland secured 
three hundred fifty acres on Wateree Creek on the path from 
the Congarees to the Catawba Nation in 1753, at which time one 
of his neighbors was Richard Gregory. 

Still a third group of families lived on the south side of 
Broad River. Paul Williams who lived on Second Creek in 1750 
requested one hundred fifty acres for his daughter's husband, 
John Pearson, who came from Philadelphia. This survey on 
Reedy Branch near Second Creek between the Broad and 
Saluda Rivers was certified to Pearson in May, 1751. Although 
this John Pearson was later identified as a Quaker, he was 
evidently not the assistant of David Martin in the Beaver 
Creek Brethren settlement. Samuel Cannon, Esq., was an 
extensive land holder, including one hundred acres on Broad 
River in 1754, two hundred acres on Cedar Shoal Creek of 
Enoree in 1765, and two hundred acres in 1771 and one hundred 
fifty acres in 1772 on Cannons Creek of the Broad River. 
Another member of this family, Ephraim Cannon, secured two 
hundred acres on Cannons Creek in 1769. Jeremiah Pearson 
had one hundred acres in 1772 on Second Creek in the Fork of 
the Broad and Saluda Rivers, and George Smith had one 
hundred acres on Cannons Creek in 1756. The only surveys 
which Townsend found for another member of this 


congregation, Joshua Edwards, were located in the Welsh 
Tract on the Peedee River. 70 


One of the interesting episodes in the history of this 
isolated Seventh Day Brethren settlement in the deep south 
was an attempt to found a monastic community in Georgia 
which would be somewhat similar to the Ephrata community 
in Pennsylvania. Morgan Edwards has preserved some of the 
details of this venture. About 1759 some eight families crossed 
the Savannah River and settled in the eastern part of the 
colony of Georgia near a little river which the Indians called 
Tuchosokin (now called Tuckaseeking). The settlement was 
close to the mouth of this river where it empties into the 
Savannah River and within the bounds of St. Matthew's 
parish. The leader of this settlement was Richard Gregory, 
who had been in South Carolina at least as early as 1749. 
However, he died in Georgia, and the leadership role fell on 
Robert Kirkland, also a member of a very prominent family 
among the Brethren in South Carolina. His assistant was John 
Clayton, who got into difficulty with the English authorities for 
a comment in one of his sermons. He stated that "he who kept 
a concubine would be no Christian, though the keeper were a 
king and the concubine a countess." This statement was in- 
terpreted to refer to King George II and his relationship with 
the Countess of Yarmouth, and for it Clayton was fined a 

Clayton's involvement with the English authorities was 
typical of the troubles which plagued the colony because of the 
attitude of their neighbors. The factor which caused the 
dissolution of the colony in addition to sickness was "a 
malignity which their neighbors had conceived against them 
on account of their working on Sundays and the judgments (as 

70. Ibid., pages 172-174. 


they imagined) which beset them while working." Among 
these judgments were such things as "a hollow tree falling and 
killing two horses while their owners were taking honey out of 
it," which incidentally was one of their major sources of 
support, "a young man being killed with the jirk of a plow 
while planting indian corn on Sunday," and "on another 
Sunday one or two being struck dead with thunder as they 
were hunting," which was the other major source of their 
income. These events seemed to represent the hand of God to 
the neighbors of these Sabbatarians. Living on the frontier of 
Georgia was difficult enough without incurring the antipathy 
of the neighbors of this communal settlement; consequently, 
after about four years, the survivors gave up and returned to 
live among their friends in South Carolina. 71 

In addition to such Seventh Day Brethren leaders as 
Thomas Owen, Victor Nelly, Richard Gregory, Robert 
Kirkland, and John Clayton, one of the very fascinating 
leaders of this group in South Carolina was Israel Seymour. 
After an early life in New Castle County, Pennsylvania, 
Seymour spent some time as a sailor and captain of a ship and 
then by some unknown circumstance he became "one of the 
earliest and most enthusiastic converts of the Sabbatarian 
movement" in French Creek, Pennsylvania, which was a 
settlement of English and Welsh Sabbatarians with close 
connections with the Ephrata settlement. In 1746 he and his 
sister entered the Ephrata community; however, the 
discipline was too exacting and they soon returned to French 
Creek. Before leaving, Seymour was baptized by Beissel and 
was ordained to serve the English and the Welsh. As the result 
of his work, a monastery similar but smaller than Ephrata 
was constructed at French Creek. The community was 
prospering until Seymour fell in love and married a young 
sister from Ephrata. To add to the difficulties he became ill 
with spells of insanity and engaged in a series of financial 
frauds involving especially his wife's family. 

71. Edwards, "Materials." 


When his financial difficulties were taken to court, 
Seymour departed from French Creek in haste and was next 
seen in South Carolina. For a time he served with the army 
during the Indian wars of the 1750's. Supposedly, his horse was 
shot out from under him, which so frightened him that "he 
earnestly prayed to Almighty God, and made a vow that if God 
would save him out of this danger he would mend his life." At 
any rate, he ended up in the Broad River area among his fellow 
Sabbatarians from French Creek, who selected him as their 
minister. The records are not clear, but evidently he served 
the Broad River congregation on a sporadic basis. In 1772 
Edwards reported: "They have no minister. Isaac Zeymore 
did the preaching among them while he behaved well .... He 
is a man of wit and some learning; but unstable as water." On 
the other hand, the Ephrata records reveal that a letter was 
received at Ephrata from Seymour in 1783 which was also 
signed by more than forty members of his congregation. It 
"shows that God afterwards made use of him to build up an 
English congregation according to the plan he had projected 
when still living a Solitary in the Settlement." 72 This Ephrata 
report would indicate that the Broad River Seventh Day 
Brethren congregation retained its identity for some years 
after Edwards' visit and also throughout the period of the 
American War of Independence. 

Clearly, the First Day Brethren and the Seventh Day 
Brethren lived together, worked together, and worshiped 
together in the back country of South Carolina. Morgan Ed- 
wards confirmed this cooperation between the two groups 
repeatedly in his discussion of South Carolina. Regarding the 
Seventh Day group he wrote: "There are others about Edesto 
and Cloudscreek, but these are incorporated with the 
Tunkers." And in his report of these two Tunker 
congregations, he used the expression, "Some keeping the 1st 
day and some the 7th for sabbath." Even Israel Seymour, the 
unstable minister, was reported to have left the Seventh Day 

72. Sachse, German Sectarians, pages 261-265. 


group to become a Tunker. Also, John Pearson was considered 
the assistant to David Martin at Beaver Creek and a member 
of the Broad River Sabbatarian congregation. Certainly, 
David Martin did not hesitate to minister to the spiritual needs 
of those Brethren who worshiped on the seventh day. On the 
frontier of South Carolina the similarities between the two 
groups obviously were much greater than the differences. 


In addition to the Brethren settlements of 1772 which 
Morgan Edwards described, a number of other areas of 
Brethren settlement in the eighteenth century Carolinas have 
been identified. One of these involved the settlement on Dutch- 
man's Creek in the Forks of the Yadkin River which was built 
around the leadership of the Hendrickses and the Rowlands. 
The original interest of the Brethren in this area may have 
been built on the marriage of John Hendricks to Sarah Lewis, 
who was probably a daughter, or at least a relative, of Daniel 
Lewis, who was a Quaker living in the Dutchman's Creek 
settlement at least as early as 1771 when the Moravian 
minister, George Soelle, visited him. 73 

Certainly, not long after Hendricks' marriage in 1780, quite 
a number of Brethren had gathered in the Forks of the Yadkin, 
as revealed in a remarkable document preserved in The State 
Records of North Carolina: 

[Undated letter filed with Letters, etc. 1782] 
To his Excellency Thomas Burke, Esqr., Captain 
General, Governor, Commander in-Chief in and over the 
State of North Carolina, &c. 

The Petition of John Crouse humbly sheweth that 
your petitioner of the Society of Dunkards, Haven 

73. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, 11,795. 


bought a piece of Land in Rowan County Lying on the 
Waters of Bear Creek, and by a man a Near Nabor, 
Thomas Maxwell, who has Entered the Sd. Land and has 
forewarned your humble Petitioner and forewarned him 
from tiling the land, and is Determined to Drive him 
from the Sd. Land. And your Humble Petitioner being a 
Poor, Harmless and inoffensive man, having bought sd. 
land at a very dear rate; whereas, aforetime said 
Thomas Maxwell pretended no right nor Claim to said 
land, your humble Petitioner being a poor Dunkard and 
past Common Slow, both in words and axtions, but more 
especially he was he acknowledges was too slow, for 
when the land office was first opened the aforesaid 
Thomas Maxwell being of a cruel and coveting 
disposition goes amedately and enters aforesd. land, and 
your humble Petitioner what through Ignorance and 
what through being too slow he neglected either entering 
his land or entering a Cavit against the man that had 
entered it, till the first three months wer out that was 
alowd for every one to Cavit in, that had any Ocation; 
therefore your humble Petitioner does humbly beg that 
your Excellency might be pleased to point out some way 
wherein he might be redrest and come to the right of his 
land again and he will ever think himself in duty bound 
to be thankfull to your Excellency for the Same. 

We the subscribers hereof, do know asshuredly the 
right of the said land belongs to the above name John 
Crouse and we have known sd. Crouse a long time and 
we are satisfied that he is but a simple and very honest 
man. 74 

This petition which dealt with a problem resulting from the 
American War of Independence was signed by twenty-seven 
subscribers, four of whom, James Hendricks, John Hendricks, 

74. Walter Clark, State Records, XIX, 926-927. 


Gasper Roland, and Joseph Roland, were almost certainly 
Brethren. Several others, including Michel Beam, Jacob 
Rethly, Abraham Wellty, Christian Gros, and Jacob Cellare, 
may have been Brethren. One of the others was the Quaker, 
Daniel Lewis, and most of the others had various relationships 
with the Brethren in North Carolina and in Kentucky across 
the years. 

The Rowan County records reveal that the members of the 
Hendricks family were active in the Dutchman's Creek area 
following 1780. For example, in 1783 John Hendricks secured a 
state grant for two hundred acres, in 1787 he purchased one 
hundred twelve acres on the waters of Dutchman's Creek, and 
in 1792 he secured another state grant for two hundred eighty- 
six acres at a place called the Bear Garden on the waters of 
the South Yadkin River. In 1793 John Hendricks began to sell 
his North Carolina land, and by the time of the sale of four lots 
in Salisbury to William Hendrix in June, 1798 he was a citizen 
of Montgomery County, Kentucky. 75 Another Hendricks who 
ended up in Kentucky, according to the Rowan County records 
was James Hendricks, who is identified elsewhere as the son of 
the John Hendricks of Montgomery County. In 1813 John 
Henry Freeling gave to James Hendricks of Warren County, 
Kentucky one hundred acres in the Forks of the Yadkin for 
undisclosed reasons. Two years later, Hendricks sold ninety- 
seven and one half acres in the same area. 76 Of course, it is 
possible that the two tracts were not identical, but the 
significant point is the residence of Hendricks in Warren 
County, Kentucky. 

Another individual who was very active in land tran- 
sactions in the Dutchman's Creek area was Jacob Crouse, who 
was quite possibly a relative of John Crouse, identified in the 
petition to the governor as a Brethren. In contrast to John, 
Jacob Crouse was evidently neither ignorant nor slow, for he 

75. Rowan County Deed Books, IX, 568; XI, 56; XIII, 233; XIV, 641-642; XVIII, 497; 
XV, 193-194, 71-72; XVII, 70-71. 

76. Ibid., XXII, 849-850; XX, 557. 


had purchased land in this area as early as July, 1779, and he 
was involved in numerous transactions as the executor of the 
estate of Abraham Weltey who died about 1787. 77 The Weltey 
estate went particularly to the Hendrickses and the Rolands, 
which further substantiates the idea that Weltey and Crouse 
were Brethren, because the Brethren had a tendency to sell 
land to other members of the sect. 

In addition to the Hendricks the other very important 
Brethren family in the Dutchman's Creek area was the 
Rowland family, which had been active among the Penn- 
sylvania Brethren almost from the beginning of the sect in 
that colony. When the Beissel schism took place in the 
Conestoga valley in 1728, one of those Brethren who refused to 
go along with Beissel was Hans Rolande. 78 A few years later, 
when the Cocolico congregation was organized in 1735 in 
Lancaster County, Philip Rowland was one of the charter 
members. 79 Many years later in 1781, Christopher Sauer, 
Junior, the prominent Germantown printer and long-time 
elder of the Germantown congreation, recorded in his diary 
that during a trip into the interior he had baptized "two sons of 
the late Philip Roland ... in the Cocalico Creek in Lancaster 
County." 80 

When the Rowlands arrived in North Carolina or what 
their status as Brethren was at the time is not clear. The 
earliest record of their presence in North Carolina is an entry 
for four hundred fifty acres on Weaver's Creek in the Forks of 
the Yadkin on November 5, 1778. For unexplained reasons this 
land was not granted to Rowland until November 27, 1792. In 
the meantime he had made another entry on November 30, 
1779 for three hundred acres on Dutchman's Creek in the same 
area; this grant was issued more promptly on October 10, 1783. 
During the 1780's and the 1790's Gasper Rowland was involved 

77. Ibid., IX, 26; XI, 396-397,490,491 ; XIV 364-366; XI I, 639. 

78. Sachse, German Sectarians, I, 138. 

79. Edwards, Pennsylvania, page 81. 

80. Quoted in Brumbaugh, German Baptist Brethren, page 403. 

in a number of other land transactions in Rowan County. Also, 
in two sales of land in 1795 he was identified as a resident of 
Wilkes County, North Carolina, but in none of these tran- 
sactions was his later Kentucky residence involved. 

Joseph Rowland, who was probably the son of Gasper 
Rowland, purchased two hundred acres of the Abraham 
Weltey estate from Jacob Crouse in February, 1788; this land 
was on Bear Creek adjoining Daniel Hendricks and John 
Rowland whose relation to other members of the Hendricks 
and Rowland families is not clear. Eight years later in 1796 
Joseph Rowland sold this land in one of the very few tran- 
sactions in which the seller lost money. 82 The only other action 
involving Joseph Rowland was a power of attorney granted to 
him as a resident of Warren County, Kentucky in 1809 by John 
Dobbin of Maury County, Tennessee and John McCrakin of 
Williamson County, Tennessee to sell land on Bear Creek. 
Within twelve months Rowland had sold the land to Mary 
Hendricks, who is unidentified. 83 It seems probable that 
around 1796 Joseph and Gasper Rowland moved to Kentucky 
with a stop perhaps in Wilkes County, North Carolina where 
there was a Brethren settlement. 

The Census of 1790 indicates the existence of an extensive 
Brethren settlement built around the Hendrickses and the 
Rowlands in the Forks of the Yadkin. Other families with 
Brethren names included Sheets, Beam, Miller, Keller, Dormer 
(Tanner), Buckner, Mock (Mack), Trout, and Click (Glick). 84 
Some of these individuals were close neighbors, as indicated 
for example in the tract of land cited in the preceding 
paragraph sold by Joseph Rowland to Mary Hendricks in 
which the description included the names of George Tanner, 
Jacob Keller, and Andrew Mack, and mentioned "Gasper's old 

81. Land Grant Records of North Carolina, Office of the Secretary of State, Raleigh, 
Land Grant Books 80, 125: 51, 118; Rowan County Deed Books, IX, 516-517; XIV, 346-347, 

82. Rowan County Deed Books, XIV, 364- 366,483-484. 

83. Ibid., XXI, 849-850, 836-837. 

84. Clark, State Records, XXVI, 1011-1014. 


track" which probably referred to Gasper Rowland. Although 
people with Brethren names continued to live in this area (e.g., 
the town of Mocks ville), the Brethren identity rapidly died out 
with the emigration to Kentucky of the Hendrickses and the 
Rowlands, who were the leaders, and the remaining Brethren 
probably became Baptists and Methodists. 

The only author who has written at any length on the 
relation of the Hendrickses and the Rowlands to the Church of 
the Brethren is J. H. Moore, who was more of a journalist than 
a historian. According to his information Gasper Rowland was 
ordained in 1775 by David Martin of South Carolina, who ac- 
cording to Morgan Edwards had been ordained in 1770 by 
Daniel Leatherman and Nicholas Martin, both Maryland 
elders. If this date is correct, it would indicate that Rowland 
was in the Carolinas somewhat earlier than the information 
based upon the land and other records previously cited. Of 
course, the land records do not usually indicate the earliest 
arrival date of a pioneer. This ordination also indicated the 
close relationship between the Brethren in the Carolinas, for 
which there is not much evidence. Moore asserted that Gasper 
Rowland ordained John Hendricks and Joseph Rowland on 
April 1, 1800, "while they still lived in North Carolina." 
However, this statement does not agree with the documentary 
evidence in the case of John Hendricks and probably in the 
case of the two Rowlands. Moore also described something of 
the work of the Hendrickses and the Rowlands in Tennessee, 
Kentucky, and Missouri. Each of these leaders who had 
contributed to the life of the Brethren in North Carolina 
continued to work actively among the Brethren of the west for 
many years. 

85. J. H. Moore, Some Brethren Pathfinders (Elgin: Brethren Publishing House, 
1929), page 160. Hereinafter cited as Moore, Some Brethren Pathfinders. 



None of the Brethren settlements surveyed thus far 
became a permanent congregation of the Church of the 
Brethren. The oldest of the present-day North Carolina 
congregations is the Fraternity Church of the Brethren 
located six miles southwest of Winston-Salem. It had its 
beginning in the 1770's as the result of the establishment of a 
Brethren settlement on the southern edge of the Moravian 
territory called Wachovia. The Salem diarist recorded on 
February 12, 1772 that "The great needs of Salem received 
special help today when quite unexpectedly, three Dunkards 
came and asked to buy 1000 acres of land in Wachovia; which 
was promised them when they had seen it." Two weeks later, 
the Bethabara diarist reported that "Br. Reuter left day 
before yesterday, already, as this week he is to survey 800 
acres on the Ens, near Peter Pfaff , for Schutz and Tanner, two 
Baptists from the Huwaren." 86 

Athough the editor of the Moravian Records did not at- 
tempt to find a correlation between these two events, the 
evidence already suggested regarding the Brethren on the 
Uwharrie (Huwaren) and the German names of the Baptists, 
Schutz and Tanner, would indicate that these were Brethren 
who were purchasing Moravian land. Furthermore, on April 6 
the Bethabara diarist reported that one of the Moravians had 
purchased for his brother-in-law in Pennsylvania the four 
hundred acres which had been surveyed for "the Baptist, 
Schutz, from the Huwaren, who has not come back, and one 
hears he has settled elsewhere." 87 This report turned out to be 
only a rumor, because on March 25, 1773 James Hutton (the 
agent of the Moravians) sold to Jacob Schott (almost surely a 
form of Schutz) two hundred acres on both sides of the South 
Fork of Muddy Creek (also called the Ens by the Moravians). 

86. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, 1 1, 670,729. 

87. Ibid., II, 732. 


One of the witnesses was Reuter, the surveyor. 88 Also, George 
Tanner had a tract adjoining Schott, as verified by the 
Moravian map of 1780 and by Tanner's deeds of purchase of 
1786 (it took him a little longer to pay for his land) and of sale 
of 1799. In the deed of 1799, his neighbor is John Jacob Sheet, 
the English form of Schutz. " 

That George Tanner was very likely a Brethren is also 
suggested by the fact that many members of the Tanner 
family were active as Brethren in the eighteenth century 
beginning with Michael Tanner in 1727 in Pennsylvania. 
Michael had at least two sons, Henry, who was a member with 
his father of the Little Conewago congregation in York County 
in 1770, and Jacob, who moved to Maryland where he became a 
prominent leader as the minister of the Middlecreek 
congregation in Frederick County, according to Morgan 
Edwards. 90 

Another prominent member of the Tanner family 
was John Tanner, who in the early 1760's led a Brethren set- 
tlement from Maryland and Pennsylvania to Madison County 
Virginia, where the only colonial Brethren congregation east 
of the Blue Ridge Mountains was established. The additional 
evidence indicates that John Tanner was a typical pioneer 
minister, for in the 1770's he traveled and preached in North 
Carolina where he was filled with buckshot by a man angered 
by Tanner's baptism of the man's wife. Recovering, he 
evidently spent several years in the 1780's in the Muddy Creek 
area, for he purchased three hundred six acres from the 
Moravians in 1783 and sold the tract in 1787 to Jehu Burkhart, a 
Brethren elder. Was he attracted to North Carolina by the 
presence of George Tanner, who might have been a relative, or 
by Jacob Tanner, who also lived in the Muddy Creek set- 

88. Surry County Deed Books, on microfilm in the State Department of Archives and 
History, Raleigh, A, 40-42. 

89. Ibid., D, 386-389; Stokes County Deed Books, on microfilm in the State Department 
of Archives and History, Raleigh, III, 273; Fries and others, Records of Moravians, III, 

90. For Pennsylvania, see Edwards, Pennsylvania; for Maryland, see Edwards, 


tlement for a number of years beginning in the early 1770's? 
After possibly spending a short time in Pennsylvania, John 
Tanner departed for the Kentucky frontier where he again 
gathered a Brethren settlement around him, which is con- 
sidered the first settlement of white men in Boone County. 
After losing two sons by Indian attacks in Kentucky in the 
early 1790's, he moved to the Brethren settlement in Spanish 
territory in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, in 1798 where he 
died in 1812. 91 

The Moravian records make it clear that the Brethren 
group on Muddy Creek was increasing in size and that it was 
conducting worship services. In July of 1772, the Friedberg 
diarist reported that a Moravian told him that he had sold his 
farm on Reedy Creek, which flowed into the Yadkin River just 
to the south of Muddy Creek, to a Brethren in order to move 
into Wachovia. The Salem diarist noted in May, 1773 that four 
more families had just arrived from Pennsylvania-three 
Moravian and a Brethren; thus, the Brethren group was 
growing by addition from the North as well as by Brethren in 
North Carolina moving around. At Friedberg which was south 
of Salem and closer to the Brethren community, the diarist 
reported on May 1, 1774 that not many were present at the 
Moravian service, since some of the members "out of curiosity 
were at the Dunkard meeting," thus indicating that Brethren 
services were probably just beginning. The same diarist noted 
in August, 1775 that "Last Sunday Christian Frey 
attended a Dunkard meeting, in which three persons 
were baptized." 92 When baptisms took place, it normally 
indicated both the presence of an ordained minister and the 
establishment of an organized congregation, so that the 

91. Among the many sources which have been utilized to piece together the story of 
John Tanner, two of the most valuable are: Lewis Peyton Little, Imprisoned Preachers 
and Religious Liberty in Virginia (Lynchburg, Va.: J. P. Bell Co., Inc., 1938), and H. Max 
Lentz, A History of the Lutheran Churches in Boone County, Kentucky (York, Pa.: P. 
Anstadt & Sons, 1902). The North Carolina land transactions of John Tanner are found in 
Rowan County Deed Books, IX, 641-642; XI, 266-267. 

92. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, 11,744,758,837,914. 


Fraternity congregation of today ought to think of itself as 
beginning in the year 1775. 

Although the Moravians did not identify the leader of this 
Brethren settlement, other evidence indicates that a Brethren 
elder named Jehu Burkhart moved to the Fraternity area of 
North Carolina from Frederick County, Maryland in 1775. His 
father, Jonathan, had emigrated from Switzerland in the 1740's 
or 1750's and had settled with four children (his wife had died 
on the Atlantic crossing) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. 
Here young Jehu had married Magdalene Croll before moving 
to Frederick County, where he owned a thirty-one acre farm 
from 1768 to 1775. 93 Although the North Carolina land records 
regarding Burkhart are not clear because his first name was 
frequently spelled John and his last name was spelled several 
different ways and it has consequently not been possible to 
reconcile completely his acquisitions and dispositions of land, 
the earliest indication of his presence in North Carolina in the 
land records was his entry for a land grant of two hundred 
thirty-five acres on Reedy Creek in Rowan County on 
November 21, 1778. 94 During the period of the War of In- 
dependence, Burkhart must have been busy with his farm 
work and with his shepherding of the young congregation of 
Brethren settling between Muddy Creek and Reedy Creek. 

One of the major reasons why the Fraternity congregation 
survived the turbulence of the war period and the division in 
the ranks that occurred among the Brethren in the years after 
the war was the coming of the Jacob Pfau (Faw) family from 
Maryland, for his descendants served as ministers of the 
congregation for many generations and indeed his descen- 
dants have continued to play an active leadership role in the 
denomination in the twentieth century. The history of the 
family in America began in 1749 when Jacob Pfau with his 
wife, Catherine Disslin, and his children, Elizabeth, Anna 

93. JohnM. Burkett,Mrs. Nellie G. Raber,and Rev. Harvey R. Burkett, Descendants 
of John Burket (Burket-Fouts Group, 1940), page 1. Hereinafter cited as Burkett, John 

94. Land Grant Records of North Carolina, Land Grant Book 67, 153. 


Catherine, Abraham, and Magdelane, secured permission 
from the authorities of the Canton of Basle to emigrate to 
America. After losing Magdelane with smallpox in England 
and after spending nine weeks on the Atlantic, the family 
arrived in America in November. Because of Catherine's 
ill health at the termination of the Atlantic crossing, the Pfaus 
were unable to move inland immediately to be with their 
friends and were forced to spend the winter in the neigh- 
borhood of their port of embarkation at Philadelphia. 95 

In the spring of 1750 with the assistance of Rudy Heier the 
Pfau family moved to the area of Frederickstown, Virginia 
(present-day Winchester). In September, 1750 Jacob (so the 
letter has been identified) wrote to his relatives in Swit- 
zerland, urging them to come to this good land, where the 
Pfaus were "never a day without meat, fresh butter and 
cheese, and also good wheat bread." 96 However, all was not 
paradise in America, for by 1756 Catherine was dead and 
Jacob had married Anna Magdalena Yount. The family was 
increased by the addition of Jacob, Isaac, and Adam by this 
second marriage. During the 1760's Jacob moved his family to 
Frederick County, Maryland, for in 1768 he paid the quit-rent 
for one hundred acres to Lord Baltimore for a tract known as 
Friendship, which was some eight miles northwest of the city 
of Frederick. Among the many German settlers in this county 
were numerous Brethren, but whether the Pfaus learned of the 
Brethren during their stay in Frederick County has not been 
determined. Also, among the many Germans in this area were 
large numbers who were leaving because of the unsettled 
conditions caused by the war and because of the at- 
tractiveness of land in North Carolina, and about 1778 Jacob 

95. Amy Faw and Linda Faw, The Faw Family Record (Chillicothe, III.: Privately 
printed, 1955, revised, 1964), passim. Hereinafter cited as Faw, Faw Family Record; see 
also, A. B. Faust and Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, Lists of Swiss Emigrants in the 
Eighteenth Century to the American Colonies (Washington, D. C: National Genealogical 
Society, 2 volumes, 1925), It, 145-146. 

96. Ibid. 


Pfau sold out to his son Abraham and joined the migration to 
Carolina. 97 

In North Carolina the Pf aus settled among the Brethren in 
the Muddy Creek area on the southern edge of Wachovia. This 
choice of a tract of land would seem to indicate some prior 
knowledge of the Brethren. Regardless of why they chose this 
exact location, on September 29, 1780, Jacob Pfau signed an 
Articles of Agreement with Friedrich Marshall, the Moravian 
business agent, by which Pfau leased two hundred seventy- 
four acres with an option to purchase the land over a period of 
years. 98 Faw's name was included in a tax list of 1780 found in 
the Moravian records. Also included is a map of farm owners 
in Wachovia dated 1779 and later on which lots eighty-eight 
and eighty-nine were held by Isaac Faw and Jacob Faw 
respectively. By their marking, the lots were identified as 
"partly rented, and partly bought but not yet paid for." The 
lots were located southwest of Salem where the Middle Fork of 
Muddy Creek joins Muddy Creek. 99 

This Moravian map must refer to the relations of the Faws 
to the Moravians after 1792 when Jacob Faw, Jun., and Mar- 
shall drew up a supplementary agreement (included with the 
agreement of 1780) by which Faw, Jun., took over the 
agreement of his father on the same terms. The lease was to 
continue for seven years, during which time Faw was granted 
the right to lease part of the tract to his brother Isaac with the 
provision that if the purchase was completed, the Faws would 
receive separate deeds. This agreement would seen to indicate 
the death of the patriarch, Jacob Faw, who had come to 
America from Switzerland more than forty years earlier. His 
death had probably occurred in the preceding year or two, for 
he is listed in the Census of 1790; included in the family at that 
time were three males over sixteen (presumably the father 

97. Ibid. 

98. Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hereinafter cited as 
Moravian Archives. 

99. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, IV, 1925; III, 1342-1344. 


and his sons, Jacob and Isaac), one son under sixteen 
(probably Adam), and two women (probably the wives of 
Jacob, Sen., and Jacob, Jun.). 100 


The very encouraging development of the scattered 
Brethren settlements in the Carolinas was seriously in- 
terrupted in the last fifteen years of the eighteenth century by 
a division in the ranks. Although the Fraternity congregation 
in North Carolina managed to survive this storm, the strong 
Brethren congregations in South Carolina were completely 
destroyed in the process. In 1826 when Robert Mills compiled 
his Statistics of South Carolina, he was unable to discover any 
Brethren congregations in the state ; 101 the available evidence 
supports his conclusion. 

What happened to these congregations was that over a 
period of years a number of the Brethren under the leadership 
of David Martin gradually turned to Universalism. Because of 
the Brethren emphasis on the New Testament with its em- 
phasis on the love of God, the Brethren of the eighteenth and 
early nineteenth centuries were particularly susceptible to the 
tenets of Universalism. J. H. Moore summarized this in- 

Early in the history of the Brethren in America the 
doctrine of Final Restoration became a live issue and 
not a few of our people were tinctured with it. In fact it 
became necessary for the Annual Meeting to give the 
matter some consideration .... It probably secured its 
firm foothold mainly through the writings of Elhanan 
Winchester, a very prolific and fluent Baptist minister 

TOO. Clark, State Records, XXVI, 1123. 

101. Robert Mills, Statistics of South Carolina (Charleston: Hurlbut and Lloyd, 1826), 
page 219 and passim. Hereinafter cited as Mills, Statistics. 


and writer, who was the author of no less than forty 
volumes, one of them bearing the title of "Universal 
Restoration." This book, as well as his "Lectures on the 
Prophecies," appears to have gained a wide circulation 
among the Brethren. ... In 1780 he settled in 
Philadelphia, and in time became acquainted with the 
Brethren in Germantown, and preached for them quite 
frequently. In his writings he speaks of being with them 
the first Sunday in April, 1781. 102 

What Moore evidently did not know was that Elhanan 
Winchester was the pastor of the Welsh Neck Baptist Church 
on the Peedee River in South Carolina from 1775 to 1779 just 
before he moved to Philadelphia. Furthermore, as Townsend 
pointed out, many of his converts to the Welsh Neck Church 
were later excommunicated, probably because "his 
carelessness in inquiring into the religious experiences of his 
converts was due to his having dropped from his creed the 
principle of election." 103 In other words, his theology was 
turning toward Universalism while he was still preaching in 
South Carolina. Undoubtedly, he was widely heard during 
these years in South Carolina, for he was a very successful 
evangelist and was also one of the early leaders in whipping up 
sympathy for the American cause in the War of Independence. 

In his numerous contacts with the Brethren, Winchester 
formed a very favorable opinion of them and he used them in 
one of his numerous books to illustrate the idea that the doc- 
trine of universal salvation did not destroy the moral stan- 
dards of a man in this world: 

The Tunkers or German Baptists, in Pennsylvania, 
and the states adjacent, who take the Scripture as their 
only guide, in matters both of faith and practice, have 
always (as far as I know) received and universally, at 
present, hold these sentiments: But such Christians, I 

102. Moore, Some Brethren Pathfinders, pages 140-141. 

103. Townsend, South Carolina Baptists, page 69. 


have never seen as they are; so averse are they to all 
sin, and to many things that other Christians esteem 
lawful, that they not only refuse to swear, go to war, &c. 
but are so afraid of doing anything contrary to the 
commands of Christ, that no temptation would prevail 
upon them ever to sue any person at law, for either 
name, character, estate, or any debt, be it ever so just: 
They are industrious, sober, temperate, kind, charitable 
people; envying not the great, nor despising the mean: 
They read much, they sing and pray much, they are 
constant attendants upon the worship of God; their 
dwellinghouses are all houses of prayer : They walk in 
the commandments and ordinances of the Lord 
blameless both in public and in private: They bring up 
their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord : 
No noise of rudeness, shameless mirth, loud vain 
laughter, is heard within their doors: The law of kind- 
ness is in their mouths; no sourness, or moroseness, 
disgraces their religion; and whatsoever they believe 
their Savior commands, they practice, without inquiring 
or regarding what others do. 

I remember the Rev. Morgan Edwards, formerly 
minister of the Baptist Church in Philadelphia, once said 
to me, "God always will have a visible people on earth; 
and these are his people at present, above any other in 
the world." And in his history of the Baptists in Penn- 
sylvania, speaking of these people, he says: "General 
redemption they certainly held, and, withal, general 
salvation; which tenets (though wrong) are consistent. 
In a word, they are meek and pious Christians; and have 
justly acquired the character of The Harmless 
Tunkers." 104 

104. Elhanan Winchester, The Universal Restoration, Exhibited in Four Dialogues 

(Worcester, Mass.: Isaiah Thomas, 1803), pages 154-155. The book was first published in 
1787; a copy of the 1803 edition cited is in the Perkins Library of Duke University. For 
additional comments on the relation of Winchester to the Brethren, see Roger E. Sap- 
pington, "Eighteenth-Century Non-Brethren Sources of Brethren History, II," Brethren 
Life and Thought. (Spring, 1957), pages 69-72. 


Winchester certainly had high praise for these eighteenth 
century Brethren. 

Even more effective in converting the South Carolina 
Brethren to the Universalist position than the preaching and 
writing of Elhanan Winchester was the writing of William 
Law, according to one of the earliest of Universalist historians, 
Thomas Whittemore, writing in 1830: 

About the year 1780, Mr. D. Martin, a pastor of a 
society of Dunkers, in Fairfield District, adjoining 
Newbury, was led to doubt the validity of the doctrine of 
endless punishment, by reading the works of William 
Law. Like an honest man, he desisted from preaching, 
until he could satisfy himself on that point; and after 
having given the subject a thorough investigation, he 
came out openly in the belief of Universal Salvation, and 
commenced preaching the doctrine. 105 

William Law, who influenced David Martin so directly, was an 
English clergyman, who was well known for his devotional and 
mystical books. Best known were his Serious Call to a Devout 
and Holy Life (1728), The Spirit of Prayer (1750), and The 
Spirit of Love (1754) . In the latter two can be seen the influence 
on Law of Jacob Boehme, the Medieval mystic. Law is con- 
sidered by Universalist historians a precursor of Univer- 
salism. In his Letters, he wrote: "As for the purification of all 
human nature, I fully believe it, either in this world or some 
after ages." 106 

At some time between 1780 when David Martin was 
identified as living in the Fairfield District, which included 
Beaver Creek, and his death in 1794, he evidently moved some 
miles further west near the present-day city of Newberry in 

105. Thomas Whittemore, The Modern History of Universalism (Boston: Published by 
the Author, 1830), page 421. Hereinafter cited as Whittemore, Universalism. 

106. Richard Eddy, Universalism in America, A History (Boston: Universalist 
Publishing House, 2 volumes, 1891), I, 11. Hereinafter cited as Eddy, Universalism in 


Newberry District, for his will was probated in Newberry 
County on July 29, 1794. Also, O'Neall in his recollections of 
Newberry County stated that David Martin "lived on Saluda, 
near Hewett's ferry." He placed the Brethren settlement 
"mainly on Palmetto Branch, north of Bush River." 107 None 
of the Brethren identified by Morgan Edwards in 1772 was 
located by Townsend on either the Palmetto Branch or the 
Bush River which is a tributary of the Saluda River. Con- 
sequently, the evidence seems to suggest that an additional 
Brethren settlement developed after Edwards' visit to South 
Carolina. O'Neall went on to say that "Among these Dunkers 
and the Quakers, without any definite participation in either, 
lived the Elmores, Mills, Hawkins, Brooks, Atkins, McKinseys, 
Larges, Gillilands, Abernathys, Coates, Downs, Hilburns, Th- 
weatts,Sheppards,Ramages, Nances, Gillams, Coopers, Cates, 
Myers, Juliens, Rileys, Elsmores, Barretts, Curetons, Harps, 
Hays." Most of these names are English in background, but 
then in contrast to the Brethren settlements in the other 
colonies which were usually pure German in nature, many of 
the South Carolina Brethren, identified by Edwards, were 
English and Welsh in background. 

Two of the families in the Newberry District which were 
positively identified with the Brethren were the Summers and 
Chapman families. Joseph Summers, the patriarch of that 
family, was a native of Maryland. Among other things he was 
noted for his long flowing beard and for his introduction into 
the area of the strain of wheat called the Yellow Lammas. As 
the story goes, he brought all that he could carry in a stocking 
leg with him from Maryland. It was pure white in color, but 
gradually it became more yellow. 108 The patriarch of the 
Chapman family, Giles Chapman, came to America from 
Bridlington, England in 1725 with his wife, Sarah Jackson. 
Their first home in America was in Virginia where they had 

107. John Belton O'Neall, The Annals of Newberry (Charleston: S. C, S. G. Cour- 
tenay and co., 1859), pages 76-77. Hereinafter cited as O'Neall, Annals of Newberry. 

108. Ibid., page 77. 


six children. Some time after 1748, when their son, Giles, was 
born, the family moved to the Newberry area in South 
Carolina. Several important things happened to the younger 
Giles: For one thing, he married Mary Summers, the daughter 
of Joseph Summers of Maryland. Also, he became a Brethren, 
probably as the result of the efforts of David Martin. Finally, 
he followed Martin into the Brethren ministry. 109 

O'Neall who knew Giles Chapman well and considered 
him a "venerable friend," wrote a moving description of 

He began to preach in 1782. Ofter have I heard his 
discourses. He was beyond all doubt an eloquent and a 
gifted preacher; and seemed to me to be inspired with a 
full portion of that holy and divine spirit, which taught 
"God is Love." His education and means of information 
were limited, yet his mighty Master spake by him, as he 
did by the fishermen "in words that burn, and thoughts 
which breath." His ministry was much followed, and in 
recurring to his spotless life and conversation, his 
continual zeal to do good, his kind and benevolent in- 
tercourse with men, and the meek humility with which 
he bore the railing of the sects of Christians, who dif- 
fered in opinion with him, I have never entertained a 
doubt, that whether right or wrong, in abstract matters 
of faith and theology, he was indeed a disciple of Him 
who came into the world to save sinners. 

I can see him now as plainly in my mind's eye, as I 
have seen him hundreds of times, as well in all the 
various pursuits and intercourse of life as in the pulpit; 
and yet I find it difficult to give of him a life-like 
description. He was rather above the ordinary size; 
grey hair and beard, not very long, but worn; his dress 
very much that of Friends, a face of the most placid and 
benevolent expression. 

109. Summer, Newberry County, page 207. 


He married more persons than any other 
clergyman; he never would have more than $1 for this 
service; "that was as much as any woman was worth," 
was his laughing reply to the question "how much do you 
charge"? This was his jest. For no man ever ap- 
preciated more highly woman, good, virtuous, suffering, 
feeble woman, than he did, and none had ever more 
cause to value her; for certainly none better as wife and 
mother was to be found than his "ain gude wife." 

As a husband, father, master, neighbor and friend, 
none was ever more justly beloved than Uncle Giles, as 
he was familiarly called by the country all around him. 110 

This vivid description makes Chapman more of a personality 
in the eyes of present-day readers than any other Brethren 
minister in the eighteenth century south of Maryland. 

Chapman not only followed David Martin into the 
Brethren ministry, he followed him into Universalism. Among 
the writers who have described Chapman's activity as a 
Universalist, there is some uncertainty about his relationship 
to the Brethren. On the one hand, O'Neall, who was a personal 
friend, wrote that "Giles Chapman, the great preacher of what 
was called Universalism until within the last twenty years, 
certainly always preached the Dunker faith." On the other 
hand, Whittemore, the Universalist historian, wrote that 
"Following [Martin's] example, Mr. Giles Chapman, a 
member of the same church, searched the scriptures, became 
convinced of the same doctrine, and although not a preacher 
before, now commenced the work of the ministry." 111 
Regardless of when Chapman first began to preach and no one 
claims that he was preaching before 1782 which was after 
Martin turned to Universalism, the Brethren brand of 
Universalism was generally somewhat different from that of 
other Universalists. O'Neall could not have explained the 

110. O'Neall, Annals of Newberry, pages 78-79. 

111. Ibid., page 77; Whittemore, Universalism, page 421. 


difference, but he knew there was a difference: "Most of the 
leading Dunkers, in the settlement to which I have alluded, 
became Universalists, but not to the extent now held by that 
body of Christians." 

The most concise description of this unusual relationship 
of the Brethren to Universalism was penned by the Univer- 
salist historian, Richard Eddy. After explaining that a 
Brethren minister in North Carolina, John Ham, and his 
followers were disfellowshiped by the Annual Meeting for 
accepting Universalist ideas, Eddy commented: 

This fact in the history of the Dunkers will explain 
what otherwise might seem contradictory, that while 
holding to the doctrine of Universal Restoration, they 
repel the charge of being Universalists. "If I were to say 
to my neighbors," said a Dunker preacher, whom the 
writer once visited, "I have a Universalist preacher 
stopping at my house, they would say, 'How do you dare 
to have such a character under your roof?' but if I 
should say, 'I have a friend with me who preaches 
Universal Restoration,' they would say, 'Have you? I am 
glad ; I would like to come in and see him ! " ' 1 } 2 

Thus, over the years a very small number of Brethren actually 
became Universalists, while quite a number evidently ac- 
cepted many of the ideas of Universalism without making a 
public change. 

John Ham, a Brethren elder in North Carolina, was one of 
that very small number of Brethren who actually became a 
Universalist. Little is known about John Ham. The origin of 
the name and of the family is obscure. The only possible origin 
among the Pennsylvania Brethren seems to be the family of 
Adam Hann, which belonged to the Ephrata settlement during 
the 1740's. In 1744 a controversy developed with Conrad 
Weiser , and the Han family fled ; however, it is recorded that in 

112. Eddy, Universalism in America, I, 37-38. 


March, 1773 George Han died at the Ephrata Cloister. 113 Or 
the name Ham may be a shortened form of some longer 
German name. At any rate in November, 1784, Joseph Ham, 
the father of John, secured a state grant for two hundred acres 
on Lick Creek which flows into the Town Fork in Surry 
County. 114 In addition he secured another one hundred fifty 
acres. In March, 1792 he sold one hundred seventy of the three 
hundred fifty acres to his son John Ham. Joseph Ham made 
out a will on October 29, 1794, in which he named his wife Seth, 
his five sons, Ezekiel, Daniel, Thomas, John, and Jacob, and his 
two daughters, Milly Holbrook and Rachel Watson. 115 No 
probate date is given on the will, but in 1800 Ezekiel Ham 
described himself as the surviving executor of Joseph Ham 
when he sold the other one hundred eighty acres to Thomas 
Ham. 116 

Quite possibly Joseph Ham died shortly after his will was 
prepared; at any rate, his son John was living in the Brethren 
settlement in the Forks of the Yadkin on November 18, 1794, 
when he bought two hundred sixty acres on Hunting Creek 
from Joshua Hawkins. Among his neighbors were Peter Beam 
and Abraham Renshaw. The deed was witnessed by Joseph 
Ralan (Rowland), the Brethren minister. Probably, Ham's 
moving was related to the action of the Annual Meeting of 1794, 
which will be considered later, for he was seeking a more 
congenial location. That John Ham continued to live in the 
area even after being put out of the church is indicated by his 
will of December 12, 1811, probated in February, 1814, which 
divided his land on Hunting Creek between his sons, William 
and John. 117 

A major historical problem is the relation of John Ham to 

113. Sachse, German Sectarians, II, 285,501. 

114. Surry County Deed Books, C, 19. This tract is apparently close to the line between 
present-day Stokes and Forsyth counties. 

115. Stokes County Deed Books, I, 199-200; Stokes County Wills, in the State Department 
of Archives and History, Raleigh. 

116. Ibid., Ill, 413-414. 

117. Rowan County Deed Books, XI 1 1, 971; Rowan County Wills, V, 309-310. 


the Fraternity settlement. The distance as the crow flies from 
Muddy Creek to Lick Creek was perhaps fifteen to twenty 
miles, which certainly does not seem too difficult in the light of 
the trips the Brethren made to Pennsylvania, Tennessee, 
Kentucky, and Ohio. Possibly, some other Brethren lived in the 
area around Ham. James Tanner was listed in the Census of 
1790 not far from Ham, and also he secured two land grants on 
the waters of the Town Fork in 1795. However, the Census does 
not reveal the large number of characteristically Brethren 
names which is true of most of the other settlements. Con- 
sequently, the likelihood is that Ham and such other Brethren 
as lived on the North side of Wachovia usually worshiped with 
the Fraternity congregation and considered themselves a part 
of it. 

That John Ham was a Brethren elder was confirmed by 
the prominent Universalist historian, Richard Eddy, who 
wrote in 1891: 

About 1785, John Ham, an elder in one of their 
churches in North Carolina, began to preach the doc- 
trine of no future punishment, and, being a man of great 
talents and of popular address, many converts were 
made to his views, chiefly in Virginia and the Carolinas. 
The church at large became alarmed, and at a council 
held about that time, they decided against preaching or 
saying anything in public about the doctrine of 
Restoration. Subsequently, John Ham and his followers 
were cut off from the fellowship of the church. 118 

Until very recently, no historian of the Church of the Brethren 
knew of the existence of John Ham, and certain references in 
the church records were consequently obscure. 119 

118. Eddy, Universalism in America, I, 37-38. 

119. John Ham was identified in the Annual Meeting Minutes only as John H., and it 
was not until 1967 that he was first identified by his full name by a Brethren historian. See 
Durnbaugh, Brethren in Colonial America, pages 326-334. 


J. H. Moore believed that the Universalist, Elhanan 
Winchester, had a great influence on the Brethren in North 
Carolina. Winchester "did considerable preaching in North 
Carolina and other parts of the country and likely met with our 
people at a number of other points. It is more likely that while 
with the Brethren in North Carolina, he instilled into them the 
universal restoration doctrine that later on helped to mislead a 
number of the southern members." 120 Whether by the direct 
influence of Winchester or some other Universalist preacher 
or writer, the Brethren elder, John Ham, along with David 
Martin in South Carolina, accepted the tenets of Universalism 
and began to proclaim these ideas from Brethren pulpits in 
Virginia and the Carolinas. 

As Eddy suggested, the leadership of the Brethren became 
concerned about this heresy. The elder of the Pipe Creek 
congregation in Maryland, Michael Pfautz, explained in a 
letter of December 9, 1794 to Martin Urner of Schuylkill and 
Alexander Mack of Germantown, Pennsylvania Brethren 
congregations, that "Brother Stutzman from Carolina sent a 
letter with two brethren, namely Brother John Gerber and 
Brother John Burger t from Carolina, to the great meeting, 
because somewhat strange doctrines were cropping up among 
the southern brethren, and the brethren in North Carolina felt 
very uneasy about them, and therefore wanted to hear the 
opinion and judgment of the older brethren, etc." Pfautz was 
pleased with the decision of the Annual Meeting which con- 
vened on October 10, 1794 in Shenandoah County, Virginia in 
the Flat Rock congregation and concluded that "God installed 
you to be heads and bishops and pillars in the congregation so 
that if such perversion continues to spread, you would be in- 
formed about it, etc." 121 

As Pfautz indicated, the Annual Meeting of 1794 dealt in 
full detail with the ideas proposed by the Brethren Univer- 
salists such as John Ham: 

120. Moore, Some Brethren Pathfinders, pages 140-145. 

121. Quoted in Durnbaugh, Brethren in Colonial America, pages 330-331. 


Article 2: We hear that there arises a strange 
doctrine, or rather opinion, among the brethren in 
Carolina, and that some brethren are grieved about this 
matter, because some believe, say, and teach the 
following, viz,: 

1. That there is no other heaven but that in man. 

2. That there is no other hell but that in man. 

3. That God has no form or shape; and if a person 
would worship God, and would conceive in his mind God 
as in the human form; would imagine or believe that 
God had an appearance like a man, such person would 
do the same as one who would worship a horse or any 
other beast. 

4. That God has no anger, and would punish no 
person on account of his sins. 

5. That the dead rise not; for out of the grave 
nothing would come forth. 

For this cause some brethren desire to hear the 
views or minds of the brethren (in general council), and 
therefore we inform the loving brethren, that 

The view or doctrine of the old brethren is, that we 
are to believe as the Scripture has said. For Christ says, 
"He that believeth on me, as the Scripture has said, out 
of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." John 7:38. 
Further he says, "The Scriptures can not be broken." 
John 10:35. Again we see that Christ in his whole life has 
looked upon the Scriptures, and has fulfilled them in all 
things. For when they came, and Peter struck with the 
sword, the Lord said, "Put up again thy sword into his 
place, for all they that take the sword shall perish by the 
sword. Thinkest thou that I can not now pray to my 
Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve 
legions of angels? But how then shall the Scripture be 
fulfilled, that thus it must be?" Matt. 26:50-54. 


Now, to come to the before-mentioned points or 
propositions, our dear brethren will not think hard of us 
because we believe as it is written, and believe also with 
David, that the word of the Lord is well refined, and a 
true doctrine, and that we also believe with Paul, that it 
is our duty to bring into captivity every thought (all 
reason, says the German) to the obedience of Christ, etc. 

1. Now, to come to the word about heaven. Says 
Moses (Gen. 1:1), "In the beginning God created the 
heaven and the earth; and the earth was without form, 
and void." Then no man was created yet, and Moses 
calls something heaven, that is not in man. And (Acts 
1:9) if we read, "And when he had spoken these things, 
while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received 
him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly 
toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by 
them in white apparel, which also said, Ye men of 
Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same 
Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so 
come in like manner as ye have seen him go into 
heaven." Here we see that there is a heaven up on high. 

2. "That there be no other hell but that in man." 
We read (Luke 15: 22, ff.) about the rich man, that he 
died and that he also was buried. Now, it is without 
contradiction that when he died his soul and spirit had 
departed from the body, and had found, it seems, ac- 
cording to the word, the hell in which he suffered tor- 
ments. So we think it would be well for us, if we would on 
this point or word "hell" apply the doctrine of Paul, not 
to dispute about words ; for we can notice in Holy Writ 
that the word hell is used for different things. But we 
believe, as it is written, that there is a lake of fire or 
place of torment, in many places mentioned, which, 
according to the word, is outside of man, as we read 
plainly (Matt. 25:41) where Christ says, "Depart from 
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the 


devil and his angels." Here we see clearly that the lake 
of fire is not in man, because men are sent into the lake 
of fire, and it says not that the fire should go into the 

3. ' 'That God has no shape or form ; and if a person 
would worship God, and would conceive in his mind and 
believe God having a form like a man, such a person 
would do the same as if he worshiped a horse or any 
other beast." This, it seems to us, is speaking very 
derogatory of God, or against God, though we believe, 
also, from the heart that God is a Spirit, as Christ 
himself says, and that the true worshipers worship him 
in spirit and in truth. But not at all contrary to this says 
John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was 
with God, and the Word was God." And further on, "And 
the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we 
beheld his glory," etc. Here God has put on a visible 
form. Now, to be sure, in his worship man should not 
imagine a form or likness of God; but if it should happen 
that a person or disciple would, in his worship in sim- 
plicity and sincerity toward God, look to God in the 
person or appearance of Christ, we consider it far less 
culpable than for a man to worship a horse or some 
other beast, and deem this a very unbecoming ex- 

4. "That God has no anger, and punishes no person 
for his sins." Now, we believe also with John, "that God 
is love; and that he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in 
God, and God in him" ; and that God is not angry like an 
unconverted man, but that penal judgments proceed 
from love to the human family. Yet notwithstanding the 
holy Scriptures or the men of God in Holy Writ call God's 
judgment God's wrath, as Psalm 90: 11, "Who knoweth 
the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so 
is thy wrath." Again, John the Baptist says (John 3:36), 
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and 


he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the 
wrath of God abideth on him." And that the Lord would 
punish no man for his sin, we deem to be an error. Christ 
says himself, "Suppose ye that these Galileans were 
sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered 
such things? I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye 
shall all likewise perish." Luke 13: 2, 3. 

5. "That the dead rise not, for out of the grave 
nothing would come forth." We believe as Christ says 
(John 5:28), "The hour is coming in the which all that 
are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come 
forth," etc. So we read (Matt. 27:51, 52), "The earth did 
quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened, 
and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and 
came out of the graves," etc. 122 

This lengthy discussion of the main doctrines of Universalism 
by the Annual Meeting of 1794 provides an excellent insight 
into the Brethren mentality of this period. It demonstrates for 
one thing the constant reference to the Bible for guidance in 
meeting the problems of this earth ; this practice by the An- 
nual Meeting continued well into the twentieth century. 
Furthermore, almost all of the Biblical references are found in 
the New Testament, which is evidence of the Brethren con- 
viction that the New Testament was the only creed which the 
Christian needed. One of the points on which it was necessary 
to turn to the Old Testament was in the discussion of God's 
anger and punishment; in fact, the great Brethren emphasis 
on the New Testament and its pattern of God's love through 
Christ had made the Brethren susceptible to the wiles of 
Universalism in the first place. This fourth proposition was 
very likely the most difficult for the Brethren elders assem- 
bled at the Annual Meeting to refute. 

In order to understand the relation of the Annual Meeting 
to those Brethren who were preaching Universalism in the 

122. Minutes of the Annual Meetings,, pages 16-18. 


Carolinas, it is necessary to understand that even though the 
polity of the sect was (and still is) rather confused, it tended to 
be more congregational than either episcopal or presbyterian. 
However, within an individual congregation the elder was 
normally a very powerful figure probably as an outgrowth of 
the German patriarchal family pattern. To disagree with an 
elder on a major congregational decision was a matter of 
considerable significance, and frequently the Annual Meeting 
was asked for assistance in resolving the conflict. It was in this 
light then that "some brethren desire to hear the views or 
minds of the brethren (in general council)" with regard to 

On occasion the Annual Meeting was required to take 
sterner measures than merely offering advice, and such 
became the case with regard to the problem of Universalism. 
In 1798 at the Annual Meeting held in the bounds of the Little 
Conewago congregation in York County, Pennsylvania, the 
assembled elders reached the following decision: 

Article 1. It has been made known to us that last 
fall, at the great council meeting of the Brethren in 
Virginia [at Blackwater in Franklin County] there was 
some discussion on account of the different views of the 
brethren, especially those in Carolina, where a brother 
minister, by name John H., has defended himself in the 
name of his whole church before many brethren in 
public, and brought to light many of his own sentiments, 
in so far that the brethren who still hold fast to the word 
of truth, according to their best knowledge, could not 
break the bread of communion with said John H. ; would, 
however, in such serious circumstances, not lightly 
make a full conclusion without hearing first, also, the 
mind of their beloved old, and by many temptations, 
established brethren; hence this is to inform our dear 
brethren in North Carolina that the case has been 
presented to the brethren by those brethren who have 


seen John H. himself, and have heard from him many of 
his what can scarcely be called doctrines, but rather 
perverse apprehensions of Holy Writ, and have quite 

Concluded that we can not hold said John H., and all 
who are of his mind, as brethren as long as they do not 
acknowledge the doctrine of Jesus and his apostles as a 
true doctrine sent from God unto salvation, and publicly 
confess, with David, that the word of the Lord is a true 
doctrine, and well refined; while they contradict the 
Holy Scriptures in many points. This we, the un- 
dersigned brethren, confess and testify to hold them as 
other people out of the church as long as they do not seek 
and keep house according to the Scripture. 

Signed by the brethren. 

Part of the evidence against John Ham was included as a 
postscript to the minutes and provides additional perspective 
on Ham's beliefs: 

P. S.-(Copy) This is to certify that I heard John H. 
say in his preaching that it would be no more sin to him 
to get upon the top of the barn that he was in, and 
preaching in, and swear and blaspheme all the new- 
found oaths and curses, than to pray to God to forgive 
him his sins, or to bless him in any respect; and he said 
he had not served such a God that required the prayers 
of human creatures to forgive them their sins, or to bless 
them in any manner, these seven years, nor never 
would. These are the words I heard, as near as I can 

Per me, Samuel Van Etten 
Johannes Keller 123 

123. Ibid., pages 20-21. 


Now the Annual Meeting had upheld the drastic action of 
disfellowshiping or excommunicating John Ham and his 
followers which some of the Brethren in Virginia and North 
Carolina had already taken at a local level. 

In order to complete this episode in Carolina Brethren 
history, it is necessary to turn to the Annual Meeting minutes 
once again, for in 1800 the Meeting agreed to explain the basis 
of its action of 1798: 

Article I. (On account of brethren in Carolina.) It 
has been made known to us that the brethren in Carolina 
desire to be informed more plainly concerning the 
conclusion made at the big meeting on Little Conewago, 
May 26, 1798, where it was concluded in union about 
Brother John H., and all who are of his mind, that we 
could have no fellowship with him (and them) as long as 
they persisted in their erroneous doctrine contrary to 
Holy Scripture. And since it is requested to inform them 
why and for what cause it was done, we should specify 
by name the causes for which we can have no more 
fellowship with John H. and his sympathizers-this is to 
further inform them that 

The chief causes were already mentioned in a letter 
from the big meeting held on Shenandoah, Virginia, 
October 20, 1794, as follows, viz.; that there arises a 
strange doctrine, or rather opinion, among the brethren 
in Carolina, and that other brethren are grieved by the 
same. (The six points are given in Minutes of 1794.) 
These six chief points have been specified in the above- 
mentioned letter of the big meeting, with the answer, as 
the old brethren have given their views and doctrine in 
refutation, which letter, as we presume, has been sent to 
the brethren in Carolina, and they are all desired to read 
the same at pleasure. Then again, at the big meeting 
which was held on Little Conewago, May 26, 1798, the 
same case was once more viewed by the old brethren, 


and also the Germantown brethren have sent their 
opinion by letter from Brother Sander Mack [the son of 
the first leader of the Brethren], wherein it is 
sorrowfully lamented that among the little flock of 
Taufs-Gesinute [sic] in America there should arise men 
who deny the resurrection of the dead, and that among 
brothers and sisters some had to have the misfortune to 
have their eyes smeared by that old, moldy, and horribly 
stinking leaven of the Sadducees. And in addition a 
written testimony has come to hand about John H., that 
he should have said in his preaching, which two truthful 
men have heard him say it, and have testified to it. (see 
postscript, Minutes of 1798.) 

Behold, much beloved brethren, in view of all the 
unscriptural doctrines and expressions, we have been 
moved (compelled) to exclude from the fellowship and 
membership of the Lord Jesus at that big meeting of 
May 26th, said John H. , and all that are in union with him 
in such views, and we confirm again that conclusion 
unanimously in our great meeting of the brethren today, 
renouncing all fellowship with each and all such persons 
as hold such doctrines and views as are stated above, 
until they acknowledge their error and repent. Still, we 
look upon this case with sadness and heartfelt grief, and 
wish them (grace) of God in Christ Jesus, whose mercy 
endureth forever, that they may earnestly reflect and 
consider what may make for their peace and everlasting 
salvation while yet it is the accepted time and the day of 
salvation. This we desire from the bottom of our hearts, 
that the good God, through the tender mercy of Jesus 
Christ, would give and bestow to them and us for his 
merciful love's sake. Amen. So much from us, the un- 
dersigned brethren, assembled with one accord, and 
delivered into the hands of our loving brethren, who also, 
in words, will make it known to you in the name of the 
whole fraternity. 124 

124. Ibid., pages 22-23. 


Nothing further is recorded either in the North Carolina 
records or in the Annual Meeting minutes regarding John 
Ham and his followers. 

It is interesting that the Annual Meeting never mentioned 
the case of David Martin in South Carolina, especially since 
Martin was almost certainly a better known minister among 
the Brethren than Ham. Of course, it may be that Martin was 
too well known to touch on this matter. More likely, the dif- 
ference is to be found in the fact that Ham did not have the 
support of certain important North Carolina elders, while 
Martin was the most important South Carolina elder and 
succeeded in taking virtually all of the South Carolina 
Brethren along with him. In other words, from the standpoint 
of the leaders of the Annual Meeting there were no Brethren in 
South Carolina who could be retained as Brethren, while in 
North Carolina there were. Whittemore confirmed the general 
sympathy of the South Carolina Brethren for Universalism : 
"These men were not disowned by the church to which they 
belonged. The members had been convinced by the two former 
ministers [Martin and Chapman] of the truth of Univer- 
salism." 125 He was probably referring to the fact that the 
local congregation took no action against these ministers, 
although it is correct that there is no record of any action by 
the Annual Meeting specifically directed against the South 
Carolina Brethren. 

At any rate, the records indicate that the Brethren in South 
Carolina gradually made the transition into full-fledged 
Universalists. Elijah Lynch is said to have been the "last 
member received with the ceremonies of the Dunkers" in 1797. 
A few years later in 1805 he began to preach Universalism as 
the associate of Giles Chapman. Certainly, by the time "he 
decided to take the name of Universalist, the entire Dunker 
Church joined him in the change of name." Such an action was 
quite reasonable on the part of the surviving Brethren, since 
there was no longer any Brethren minister in South Carolina. 

125. Whittemore, Universalism, page 422. 


Chapman died on April 14, 1819 after having spent more than 
thirty-five years as a minister. The story is told of Chapman's 
final illness: "Neither Mr. Chapman, nor any of his brethren 
knew of the existence of any Universalists in the United States 
besides themselves; nor did he become acquainted with the 
fact, until on his death bed, when a friend accidentally 
procured and read to him Ballou's Treatise on Atonement. The 
dying man was in extacy ; and so strong was the effect upon his 
feelings it is said to have allayed his bodily pain, though his 
suffering had been extreme." 126 This remarkable story which 
comes from the Universalists is another confirmation of the 
unusual nature of Brethren Universalism. 

If the story of Chapman's first learning of American 
Universalism on his death bed by hearing Ballou's writings is 
correct, then the connection between the South Carolina 
Brethren Universalists and the Universalist Church that was 
developing in the United States must have been established by 
Elijah Lynch. Writing while Lynch was still active, Whit- 
temore reported in 1830 that Lynch's "labors, though faithful 
and approved, have not been as extensive as those of his 
predecessors. He preaches to a respectable audience once a 
month, in a Meeting House about three miles from Newbury 
Court House, and at other places, as occasion requires." 127 

Writing some years later in the 1880's after Lynch's death, 
Richard Eddy was able to provide a better perspective of 
Lynch's contribution to Universalism: "For many years he 
officiated regularly in the meeting-house a few miles north of 
Newberry, and much of that time was the only Universalist 
preacher in the State." 128 Also, Eddy gave a further insight 
into Lynch's life by including his obituary, following his death 
on August 10, 1842, which was written for The Southern 
Universalist by L. F. W. Andrews, who conducted the funeral: 

126. Ibid., page 421. 

127. Ibid., page 422. 

128. Richard Eddy, History of Universalism, Volume X of American Church History 
(New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1903), page 86. 


During his last illness he dictated to his son what 
may be considered his dying testimony to the truth, from 
the passage in 1 Thess. ii. 19. "For what is our Hope," in 
which he has given evidence how sustaining was the 
hope which he possessed, on the near approach of death, 
and effectually rebuked the slanderous report already 
circulated, that he had renounced his faith and burnt his 
books! His remains were committed to the tomb on 
Thursday, the 11th, in the burial ground where stood the 
church in which he received his first religious im- 
pressions of universal love, and where repose the 
remains of the venerated Chapman, from whose lips 
those sacred impressions were received. 129 

Quite probably, these Universalists were not highly regarded 
by their neighbors who had worked diligently to convert them 
to the more orthodox Methodist and Baptist churches. But to 
the very end, Lynch had stood his ground in preserving the 
faith which he had received as a youth. 

Lynch 's death succeeded in achieving what these neigh- 
bors of other churches had not succeeded in doing during his 
lifetime-bringing an end to the active Universalist witness in 
Newberry County. At any rate, Richard Eddy's survey of 
Universalism in the 1880's had no indication of any Univer- 
salist activity in this area of South Carolina. 130 Also, Lynch's 
death evidently brought an end to the Universalist activity on 
the other side of the Broad River in the original Brethren 
territory around Beaver Creek. There the surviving Brethren 
had apparently become Universalists, for Robert Mills 
reported in 1826 in his discussion of the Fairfield District that 
"In the Beaver Creek settlement there are some Universalists, 
who, however, are not regularly constituted into a society." 131 
Beyond this notice and the fact that delegates were present 

129. Ibid., pages 86-87. 

130. Ibid., pages 398-399. 

131. Mills, Statistics, page 548. 


from both Newberry and Fairfield Districts at the 
organization of a State Convention of Universalists in 
November, 1830, nothing is recorded regarding the Beaver 
Creek group. 


The fact that two of the most important Brethren 
Universalist ministers in South Carolina, Chapman in 1819 and 
Lynch in 1842, were buried in what is identified by Summer as 
the "Chapman-Summers graveyard, also known as the old 
Tunker Church Cemetery-located about 4V 2 miles South-west 
of Newberry Court House, near the old Paysinger home" 
outlines the final major problem that needs to be considered in 
discussing the Brethren in South Carolina. More precisely, the 
problem concerns the building of a meeting house, the 
existence of which was also noted by the Universalist 
historians, Whittemore and Eddy. 

As a general practice, the Brethren were very slow about 
building meeting houses, as they preferred to call their 
churches. So far as the records reveal, no church buildings 
were erected by the Brethren in Europe. Furthermore, they 
did not build any churches in America until 1770, more than 
fifty years after their arrival in America. 

The reasons for this delay are not clear today. Perhaps, 
the Brethren simply did not have sufficient funds and energy 
to devote to such a purpose; obviously, they were carving 
homes and farms out of a virgin wilderness, which involved 
endless hours of hard work. According to this explanation, the 
Brethren by their hard work eventually became prosperous, 
and then they had the surplus funds to devote to the con- 
struction of meeting houses. 

Possibly, the Brethren did not immediately build meeting 
houses because they wanted their religion to be home and 
family centered, and thus they preferred to worship God in 


their own homes, even on a congregational level. Certainly, it 
is abundantly evident that they were very clannish and that 
family ties were extremely important to them. According to 
this explanation, the local Brethren congregations eventually 
included too many people from outside the immediate family, 
and thus the more formal houses for worship became 

Still a third reason for their failure to build meeting houses 
shortly after they arrived in South Carolina, as other religious 
groups did, may be suggested. The Brethren were honestly 
attempting to imitate the New Testament Christians of the 
first century after the life of Christ. And nowhere in the New 
Testament did they find any evidence of a building erected by 
the Christians for worship. That this explanation was very 
likely the one accepted by the Brethren as the basis of their 
action was confirmed by Morgan Edwards in his account of 
the Brethren. With regard to Pennsylvania he wrote that 
among the fifteen congregations were only four "meeting 
houses." As he understood it, "The reason of their having no 
more places of worship is, That they choose rather to meet 
from house to house in imitation of the primitive Christians." 
In his Maryland account he noted: "It is to be remarked that 
there is no meeting house in any of these places. They 
preferring to assemble in each other's private dwelling in 
imitation of primitive Christians." 132 Evidently, the Brethren 
based their case for not building meeting houses on religious 
grounds. How they justified the eventual change from this 
policy, which began with the construction in 1770 of a meeting 
house by the mother church at Germantown, Pennsylvania, is 
not made clear from the records. 

This general attitude of the Brethren toward meeting 
houses was the accepted policy of the Brethren in the 
Carolinas for many years. When Morgan Edwards visited 
these isolated Brethren on the southern frontier, he noted 
regarding each of the seven congregations that there was no 

132. Edwards, Pennsylvania, page 90; Edwards, "Materials on Maryland." 


meeting house, and added, 'They hold their worship from 
house to house." In contrast to Edwards' statement, which is 
undoubtedly correct, it is interesting to speculate on the 
possible relation of the Beaver Creek Brethren to the Mobley 
Meeting House, which was erected in the north central part of 
Fairfield County some years before the War of Independence. 
McMaster, the historian of Fairfield County, considered it 
"one of the next earliest places of worship in the county," after 
the Little River church built in 1771 and the Bethesda Auf der 
Morven church which is not dated. The possible relation of the 
Brethren to the Mobley Meeting House is based first on the 
fact that it was called a meeting house rather than a church, 
second on the fact that it was built near the residences of the 
Moberleys, the Beams, and the Wagners, and third on the fact 
that it was "for the use of any denomination." With regard to 
the families, it ought to be pointed out that the Hans Waggoner 
family was specifically identified with the Brethren by Ed- 
wards and that Beam was a familiar German Brethren name 
(by whatever spelling) found in Brethren settlements in other 
colonies. Finally, McMaster concluded that "It never became 
notable for religious worship, but its name lives because of an 
affray between the Tories and Whigs during the Revolutionary 
War, when the Tories were put to rout." 133 

Even though the Mobley Meeting House in Fairfield 
County was never specifically identified as a Brethren 
meeting house, the Tunker meeting house near Newberry 
clearly was built by the Brethren. When this meeting house 
was constructed is an unanswered question. O'Neall claimed 
that his earliest recollection of Giles Chapman went back to 
1799 or 1800, and he gave no indication that he had ever seen 
him preach anywhere else than "in the pulpit." In fact, in 1859 
when he was writing, he referred to the church as "the old 
Dunker meeting house" and implied that the building was no 
longer standing. 134 Neither Whittemore nor Eddy gave any 

133. McMaster, Fairfield County, page 74. 

134. O'Neall, Annals of Newberry, page 79. 


indication when the building was erected although they seem 
to imply that it was there when Elijah Lynch became a 
Brethren in 1797. Quite likely, then, the Brethren meeting 
house near Newberry was built during the 1790's, and its 
construction may have been related to the death of David 
Martin in 1794, which may have removed the last conservative 
Brethren opposition to the building of meeting houses. 


The major problem of the North Carolina Brethren during 
the closing decade of the eighteenth century was not building a 
meeting house, which they did not undertake until 1852, but 
rather surviving in a time in which most of the Brethren and 
their leaders either died, or departed for other states, or turned 
to Universalism. In the perspective of all of this difficulty with 
Universalism including the lengthy decisions of three Annual 
Meetings, it is all the more remarkable that the Fraternity 
congregation survived; this survival is a tribute to the 
leadership exerted by the members of the Burkhart and Faw 
families, who succeeded in keeping the settlement of Brethren 
loyal to the doctrines accepted by the church as a whole. 

After the end of the war, the elder of the Fraternity 
congregation, Jehu Burkhart, increased his holding of land. On 
October 15, 1787, he purchased three hundred six acres from 
John Tanner on Sparks Creek. During the 1790's he also 
secured additional land on Reedy Creek by purchasing two 
hundred thirty-five acres in 1792 and one hundred twenty-five 
acres in 1793, and by securing a state grant of eighty-four acres 
in 1795. 135 During the years from 1801 to 1809 Burkhart 
disposed of all of his land in North Carolina, including the 
property on Sparks Creek, which Jehu Burkhart, Jr., sold in 
1808. Incidentally , the son signed with a mark in contrast to the 

135 Rowan County Deed Books, XI, 266-267; XII, 538-539,229-300; XVI, 541-542. 


father who signed his name in German script. 136 Obviously, 
some of the Burkharts were disposing of their property in 
North Carolina in order to leave the state. In 1809 Jehu 
Burkhart moved to Montgomery County, Ohio, where he 
continued to be an active churchman as the first elder of the 
Lower Stillwater congregation when it was organized in 181 1! 37 

Most of Jehu Burkhart's land went to his children. 138 For 
example, in 1801 the two hundred thirty-five acres on Reedy 
Creek which he had purchased in 1792 was sold to his fourth 
child, Henry, who had been born in 1771. 139 After remaining in 
Rowan County some years longer, Henry and his family joined 
his father in Montgomery County, Ohio, about 1816. In 
November and December, 1803, in three transactions, the elder 
Burkhart disposed of much of his remaining property in North 
Carolina to his son, Abraham, and to his son-in-law, Isaac Hire 
(Heyer). 140 Abraham had been born in 1778 and had married 
Catherine Hire, a sister of Isaac and the daughter of Rudy 
Heyer ; shortly after the birth of their tenth child in 1824 they 
moved to Putnam County, Indiana. Isaac and Barbara Hire, 
like so many other members of the family eventually moved to 
Montgomery County, Ohio; it is recorded that they had nine 
children before his death in 1820, after which she remarried 
and had two more children. Isaac's twin brother, Leonard, 
married Barbara's older sister, Elizabeth, and they received 
assistance from her father, either in the form of land or of 
financing ; in 1799 in a Stokes County document, Jehu Burkhart 
acknowledged the payment of a mortgage from Leonard 
Heyer on one hundred forty acres. 141 The land was located 
along the Muddy Creek next to the Faws. Elizabeth died in 
1806 during the birth of twins, and her husband with her three 

136. Ibid., XVI I, 616-617; XVIII, 936; XIX, 11-12,12-13; XXI, 504-505,880-881. 

137. Jesse O. Garst, editor, History of the Church of the Brethren of the Southern 
District of Ohio (Dayton, Ohio: Otterbein Press, 1920), page 94. 

138. Most of the information in the following two paragraphs is found in Burkett, Jehu 
Burket; however, the land records are properly documented from the sources. 

139. Rowan County Deed Books, XVII, 616-617. 

140. Ibid., XVII, 936; XIX, 11-12, 12-13. 

141. Stokes County Deed Books, III, 248. 


children and a second wife moved to Montgomery County, 
Ohio, in 1815. 

Another son of Jehu Burkhart who received land from his 
father, although the exact transaction has not been located in 
the records, was Jehu, Jr., who had been born about 1770. 
Probably he left North Carolina in 1808 shortly after disposing 
of the property on Sparks Creek which his father had pur- 
chased from John Tanner in 1787, 142 and settled in Harrison 
County, Indiana. Other children of Jehu Burkhart included his 
oldest child, Mary, who was born in 1765 and who married 
Jacob Huntsinger, a native of Germany. They lived in Ashe 
County for a number of years after 1789 and eventually moved 
to Montgomery County, Ohio. The second child was a son, 
Christian, who moved to Wilkes County at least as early as 
1796, when he received a state grant of fifty acres; however, it 
is identified as adjoining "his old corner," probably an in- 
dication that he had already been in Wilkes County for some 

time, 143 

In 1791 one of the daughters, Magdalene, married Isaac 

Faw, who succeeded his father-in-law as the leader of the 
Fraternity congregation. Finally, the youngest child, 
Nathaniel, who was born in 1784, married Elizabeth Kessler 
and moved to Ohio in 1812 and then on to Indiana 
in 1828. They had thirteen children, most of whom lived in 
Indiana. Quite probably, all of the nine children of the 
Brethren elder, Jehu Burkhart, married Brethren, since such 
marriages were a common sectarian practice. The names, 
such as Huntsinger, Rinker, Kessler, and Heyer, generally are 
German names which have been associated with the Church of 
the Brethren. The nine children of Jehu Burkhart averaged 
nine children apiece, thus demonstrating the way in which the 
Brethren increased in numbers during those years and 
providing another piece of evidence to support what Thomas 
Bailey has called "the delightful fertility of American 

142. Rowan County Deed Books, XI, 266-267; XXI, 504-505. 

143. Wilkes County Deed Books on microfilm in the State Archives, Y, 53. 


The Moravians were well acquainted with Jehu Burkhart 
and consequently provided more of an insight into his ac- 
tivities than is available for other Brethren leaders. The 
earliest reference was in May, 1791, when the Salem diarist 
noted that "The wagon of our neighbor Jehu Burkart, which 
went to Pennsylvania in March, has returned and brought us 
letters and Nachrichten, for which we were grateful for we 
have received none since October." The references became 
more frequent after 1800. The writer of the Friedberg diary 
reported that on December 2, 1800, "I attended two meetings 
held by the Tunkers at the home of Jehu Burkhart. Two or 
three preachers from Virginia were present, and among other 
things they spoke much about the sufferings of Jesus. Their 
guide, George Giersch, a Tunker from Pattitat [Botetourt] 
County, came to me and referred with pleasure to his 
childhood, when he spent two years in the school of the 
Brethren [Moravians] two miles from Quithopehill" in 

Evidently, the Moravians and many other neighbors were 
much impressed by an event on Sunday, June 23, 1799, when 
"the Dunkers held a great gathering, on which occasion 
various ministers preached, prayed, and sang, alternately in 
German and English. Then three persons were immersed in 
the South Fork. Altogether the meeting lasted more than four 
hours. As this seldom happens, more than three hundred 
persons gathered, standing on both banks of the creek." How 
many of these three hundred people were Brethren is an in- 
teresting but unanswered question. Also the fact that the 
preaching was conducted in both German and English is worth 
special attention, because there is very little evidence on this 
transition among the Brethren ; it has generally been believed 
that the change from German to English did not make much 
progress until well into the nineteenth century. 

The Moravians treated the medical needs of the Burkhart 
family along with everyone else for miles around: In April, 
1801, the Moravian doctor was "called to the home of our 


neighbor Jehu Burkhart, as his son had fallen from a horse and 
had broken a bone in his leg," and in May, 1803, Jehu 
Burkhart's "little son had broken his right arm." From the 
context it is not clear whether these were the sons of Jehu 
Burkhart, Sr., or Jr. Occasionally, Burkhart visited his 
Moravian friends or attended their services. In June, 1807, the 
Friedberg diarist "had a pleasant visit from the Dunkard 
bishop, Jehu Burkhart. He inquired about a number of 
Brethren whom he knew, and especially about Br. John 
Gambold and the mission to the Cherokees." A year later in 
July, 1808, "the Dunkard bishop, Jehu Burkardt," attended a 
Moravian funeral and after the sermon by the Moravian 
minister, Burkhart "followed with an address to the com- 
pany." Finally, in the last reference to Burkhart, in August, 
1810, it was noted that at Friedberg, "the old Tunker bishop, 
Jehu Burkhart, attended the preaching service." 144 From the 
wording of the last three items, it may be that Jehu Burkhart, 
Sr., had moved to Ohio by 1807 and was merely visiting family 
and friends on these three occasions. 

The man who became the leader of the Fraternity 
congregation after Jehu Burkhart moved to Ohio was Isaac 
Faw. On August 10, 1791, Isaac had married Magdalene 
Burkhart, the daughter of Jehu Burkhart. 145 Both of the young 
people were eighteen. However, Isaac was an ambitious young 
man and he made provisions for his family by adding to his 
holdings of land in the Muddy Creek area. On April 1, 1795, he 
purchased from the Moravians one hundred four acres "in the 
Fork of the Middle fork of Muddy Creek and the Northfork, 
thereof" for which Faw was to make payments over a five 
year period. 146 Actually, he completed the stipulated 
payments in three years and received his deed to the property 

144. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, V, 2324; VI, 2552,2685, 2755, 2909, 2920; VII, 

145. The date is based on family records since it cannot be verified by surviving Stokes 
County marriage bonds. 

146. Moravian Archives. 


on September 9, 1798. 147 He immediately made arrangements 
to purchase another one hundred six acres adjoining his land 
on the north side of the Middle Fork of Muddy Creek, to be paid 
for in three years. 148 He became the father of eight children, 
Henry, Daniel, Abraham, Mary, Isaac, Nancy, Elizabeth, and 
Jacob. 149 One interesting sidelight on Isaac Faw, Sr . , is that he 
achieved his success as a farmer and a leader of the Brethren 
without ever learning to write, for he signed his name with an 
"X" in his agreements with the Moravians in the 1790's and in 
his son, Isaac's, wedding bond in 1834. 

From the standpoint of the Brethren in North Carolina, 
Isaac Faw was significant primarily because of his leadership 
of the Fraternity congregation. Nothing is known of his or- 
dination or of the exact years of his leadership. He probably 
took over full responsibility for the Brethren settlement about 
1810 after Jehu Burkhart departed for Ohio. Faw must carry 
much of the responsibility for the fact that the Fraternity 
congregation is the only present-day congregation of the 
Church of the Brethren in the Carolinas which had its begin- 
ning in the colonial period of American history. He was 
evidently the only Brethren elder in the original area of set- 
tlement along the Yadkin River who did not emigrate to the 
west with the tide of the frontier. 

Another important Brethren family in the Fraternity 
community about which virtually nothing is known is the 
Miller family. The only definite linking of this family to the 
Brethren is found in a recent history of the Flat Rock 
congregation in Ashe County which asserts that a young 
Brethren named Jonathan Miller moved from the Salem area 
to the Ashe County Brethren settlement shortly after 1800. 
Furthermore, his father was reputed to have settled in the 
Salem area before the War of Independence. 150 In a 

147. Stokes County Deed Books, III, 160. 

148. Moravian Archives. 

149. Faw, Faw Family Record. 

150. Clayton B. Miller, "The Flat Rock Church of the Brethren," unpublished 
manuscript. Hereinafter cited as Miller, "Flat Rock." 


remarkable document dated November 23, 1801, this Jonathan 
Miller is identified as one of the eight children of John Miller, 
Sr. The father had evidently died some years before and the 
children had had to await the death of the mother before the 
two hundred fourteen acres on Sparks Creek (just south of 
Muddy Creek) belonging to the father could be divided. In this 
document Jonathan sold his twenty-six and three-quarters 
acres to Horatio Hamilton. John Miller, Sr., had been granted 
four hundred fifty -three acres on Sparks Creek on May 6, 1762 
by the Earl of Granville, of which he sold one hundred forty 
acres in 1779 to Henry Miller, Sr. He had also secured other 
land in the immediate area, including one hundred forty-six 
acres on both sides of Muddy Creek adjoining the northeast 
side of the Yadkin River from a Moravian, Nathaniel Seidel, 
and two hundred acres on the southwest side of Abbotts Creek, 
which was a gift from his father, George Miller. 151 

By 1783 Henry Miller was acting as the executor of John 
Miller in land transactions ; in the name of John Miller and in 
his own right, Henry Miller secured at least thirteen hundred 
acres in state grants from 1783 to 1789. 152 When Jonathan 
Miller sold his inheritance in 1801, Henry Miller was identified 
as a neighbor, along with Valentine Miller and Michael Miller. 
Obviously, the Millers were prominent farmers in the Muddy 
Creek Brethren settlement; which ones were Brethren cannot 
be proven, but such evidence as the identification of Millers as 
members of seven of the fifteen Brethren congregations in 
Pennsylvania in 1770 by Morgan Edwards, and the iden- 
tification of Millers as Brethren by the Committee of Ob- 
servation of Washington County, Maryland, in 1775 would 
indicate the existence of Millers as Brethren in other sec- 
tions. 153 Finally, if John Miller, Sr., was a Brethren when he 
came to North Carolina, he was living in the general area of 

151. Rowan County Deed Books, XV 1 1 1, 221; XI, 20-21; VI I, 200-202; VI 1 1, 222-223. 

152. Ibid., IX, 593; X,46; XI, 253,854. 

153. Edwards, Pennsylvania, pages 72,75 76,80,83,86,87,88; "Journal of the Committee 
of Observation of the Middle District of Frederick County, Maryland," Maryland 
Historical Magazine, XII (September, 1917), 261 285. 


the Fraternity congregation very early indeed-1762. 

In addition to the Miller family, several other Brethren 
families in this general area have been identified. Although it 
has not seemed likely that Daniel Leatherman ever lived in 
North Carolina, other members of the family moved to North 
Carolina, including Nicholas Leatherman whose will was 
dated September 7, 1782 and probated in May, 1783. 154 His four 
sons were Jonas, John, Daniel, and Christian, the last of whom 
had been identified in the Rowan County court records during 
the war. According to the Census of 1790, all four of the sons 
were living in Rowan County just south of the Stokes County 
line in the Reedy Creek area. Christian Leatherman was a 
neighbor of Jacob Stutzman and in 1795 sold him a piece of 
land. 155 Daniel Leatherman witnessed this transaction and 
several others involving Stutzman, which was a frequent 
characteristic of the Brethren. Another such family was the 
Heiers, Leonard and Rudy, who were neighbors of the Faws 
and intermarried with the Burkharts; furthermore, Leonard 
Heier seems to have purchased his farm from Jehu 
Burkhart. 156 Also, the Moravians, who were neighbors of the 
Heiers, observed that in 1799 a Brethren baptizing took place 
"on the South Fork near the home of Rudy Heuer," 157 an event 
which usually took place at the farm of a member. 

Although the Moravians and the Brethren lived as neigh- 
bors in the Fraternity area, sometimes the relations between 
the two sectarian groups were not so cordial. For example, in 
May, 1782, the Salem boards expressed concern that "the so- 
called Dunkards, and especially the Methodists, seem to be 
trying hard to take over our people into their persuasion. The 
latter become constantly more busy in the neighborhood of 
Hope, but the last speaking with the members of that Society 

154. Rowan County Wills in the State Department of Archives and History. 

155. Clark,State Records,XXVI, 1034,1037; Rowan County Deed Books, XI 1 1, 776. 

156. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, III, 1343; Stokes County Deed Books, III, 


157. Ibid., VI, 2636. 


did not show that any harm had been done." 158 Actually, the 
Brethren had secured a reputation for their ability to secure 
members from other German sectarian groups, especially 
among the Mennonites in Virginia. On the other hand, the 
Moravians evidently were doing some proselyting on their 
own, too, for on October 7, 1802, a former Brethren named 
George Samuel Brendel, who had been born in North Carolina 
on December 28, 1775, was baptized a Moravian at Hope, and in 
1835, ''this month in Hope a member of the Dunkard Church, 
who was baptized by her uncle Faw, asked to become a 
member of our congregation." 159 

Also, some intermarrying between the two German 
groups was taking place, although a sect normally forbids its 
members to marry outside of the sect. The Salem boards 
expressed concern in May, 1783 because "Kastner has chosen 
to marry the daughter of a Dunkard. It will not be wise 
publicly to turn him out, but the newly elected Friedland 
committee, . . . can be asked whether they will recognize such 
a man as a Society Brother, and then they can tell the set- 
tlement of their decision." That was certainly a polite way of 
handling the matter! 

Many years later in 1823, a Moravian minister performed 
the marriage ceremony of Maria Faw, the daughter of "the 
Dunkard preacher, Faw, near Hope," to a Moravian, Thomas 
Hanes, in the Faw home. According to the Moravians who had 
rather high standards regarding weddings, "The wedding 
festivities which followed were conducted in a Christian 
fashion, accompanied by prayer and the singing of hymns." 
Nothing was said about whether the Hanes family would be 
Brethren or Moravian. Years later, when the four children 
were growing up, the Moravian minister at Hope visited 
"Thos. Hanes and had a thorough discussion with him in 
regard to his merely nominal membership with us. He seems 

158. Ibid, IV, 1804. 

159. "Catalogue of the members of the Congregation and Society in Hope in the Year 
1806," Moravian Archives; Fries and others, Records of Moravians, VI 1 1, 4210. 


to hold with the principles of the Baptists and that is the reason 
none of his children are baptized." The minister was im- 
pressed by his lack of understanding of the reasons for adult 
baptism, and therefore "dared to offer some points against the 
principles and advised him to read the holy scriptures with a 
request for enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and before all 
things to ask for the baptism of the Spirit, without which no 
water baptism can avail for bliss." 160 Apparently, the 
Brethren had come out on top in this marriage. 


Although the Fraternity congregation under the leader- 
ship of the members of the Faw family managed to come out 
on top often enough to survive and continue as a Brethren 
congregation, one of the major reasons why none of the other 
early Brethren settlements in North Carolina survived was the 
emigration of so many Brethren from North Carolina to what 
seemed like more desirable locations in the west. The land 
agents and speculators had a hand in persuading these in- 
dustrious Germans to give up their well-developed farms on 
the eastern side of the mountains in order to follow the long 
and dangerous trail westward. J. H. Moore described the 
activities of Major George F. Bollinger, "a man of wonderful 
power and influence," who "talked to our people when he 
visited them in North Carolina about the productive lands in 
Missouri [which] naturally stirred their enthusiasm for the 
west, where land was cheap, climate mild and opportunities 
unbounded for men of enterprise." As a result some of the first 
settlers in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri were Brethren 
from North Carolina who reached Missouri in 1795. 

However, not all of the Brethren who emigrated from 
Fraternity and other Brethren settlements along the Yadkin 

160. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, IV, 1851; VI 1 1,3628; IX, 4508. 


River or its tributaries went to Kentucky and Missouri. Some 
of them stopped along the New River in Wilkes County in 
western North Carolina. The Wilkes County land records 
clearly indicate that Brethren were arriving as settlers along 
the New River in the 1780's, and by the time of the Census of 
1790 a considerable settlement had developed, including such 
families as Burket (Burkhart), Kessler, Weaver, Keller, Grove 
(Groff), Fouts, Carver (Garver), Bowers (Bauer), Miller, 
Landes, and Moch (Mack). 161 

Of particular interest are the land transactions of several 
individuals who have been previously identified in connection 
with other North Carolina Brethren settlements. On May 18, 
1789, Jacob Faw received a state grant of fifty acres located on 
the north fork of Buffalo Creek, a tributary of the New River, 
near Baker's old camp. Unfortunately, the records do not 
indicate whether this was father or son, nor do they reveal the 
purpose for Faw's securing this grant. It seems quite possible 
that the Faw family was seriously considering the desirability 
of leaving the Fraternity community in the 1780's because of 
the turmoil arising from the Universalist controversy. 
Another interesting transaction was the sale of three hundred 
twenty acres located in the fork of Buffalo Creek on the west 
side of Phenix Mountain by Jiles Parmely to John Carver in 
June, 1788; Carver in turn sold this land in September, 1796, to 
Gasper Rowland, the Brethren elder from Rowan County. 162 
As previously indicated, the Rowan County records indicated 
that Rowland lived for a time in Wilkes County. 

The records do not indicate that the Faws lived in Wilkes 
County during these years, and Gasper Rowland must have 
moved to Kentucky not long after buying land in Wilkes 
County; however, two individuals, John Bowers and Jonathan 
Miller, have been identified as leaders of the Brethren in 
Wilkes County over a period of many years. Bowers was there 
at least as early as 1790, for he is listed in the Census of that 

161. Moore, Some Brethren Pathfinders, pages 41-47: Wilkes County Deed Books, CI, 1, 
92,67,99; B-1,64; Clark, State Records, XXVI, 1246-1247. 

162. Wilkes County Deed Books, C-l, 279; X-1,92; Y, 108. 


year. His brother, Adam Bowers, had purchased land in Wilkes 
County in July, 1788, but is listed in 1790 as a resident of Rowan 
County; qute possibly, John was farming the three hundred 
twenty acres on the upper fork of Naked Creek near the 
Phenix Mountain. 163 

The earliest contemporary evidence that these Germans 
were Brethren besides the presence of Gasper Rowland in the 
1790's was the report of a Moravian minister, Abraham 
Steiner, who visited the mountains of Ashe County 
(established from Wilkes County in 1799) in May, 1804, and 
reported: "Going further into the country I crossed New River 
with difficulty and toward evening reached a settlement of 
Dunkards, and spent the night with a Mr. Bauer, of that per- 
suasion, a mile from the Courthouse." Not only was Bauer a 
Brethren, but Steiner discovered that he was "an exhorter 
among his people, and during the evening spoke much about 
religious matters, but in such a way and in such a strain that I 
must admit I did not understand him." 164 Although these 
German sectarians usually got along cordially, their vigorous 
defense of their own beliefs and practices could easily have 
created a barrier to understanding. 

Jonathan Miller had evidently been reared in the 
Fraternity community where his father, John Miller, had 
secured a grant from the Earl of Granville in 1762. There is no 
evidence to indicate whether the Millers were Brethren when 
they arrived in North Carolina or whether they became 
Brethren as the result of the establishment of a congregation 
in their neighborhood. The evidence does indicate that 
Jonathan Miller intended to remain in the Fraternity area of 
Stokes County, for in November, 1799 he completed the pur- 
chase of one-hundred eighty-nine and three-quarters acres 
close to the Faws on the South Fork of Muddy Creek from 
George Danner (Tanner), who had been one of the early set- 
tlers in the area in the 1770's. In the 1780's Danner had moved 

163. lbid.,C-l,67; Clark, State Records,XXVI, 1048. 

164. Fries and others, Records of Moravians, VI, 2967. 


to the Dutchman's Creek area of Rowan County, where he 
purchased two hundred acres which was part of a tract which 
had earlier been granted by the Earl of Granville to Squire 
Boone, Daniel's father. 165 For whatever unexplained reason, 
Jonathan Miller decided to leave Stokes County shortly after 
he had secured his deed from Danner, for in November, 1801, 
when he and his brothers, Joseph and Henry, sold the land on 
Sparks Creek in Rowan County which they had inherited from 
their father, they were all identified in the deeds as residents 
of Ashe County. At the same time, in November, 1801, Joseph 
Miller was buying one hundred thirty-five acres in Wilkes 
County, and several months earlier in July, Jonathan had 
recorded a state land grant for fifty acres on the North Fork of 
New River in Ashe County. During the next five years, 
Jonathan purchased an additional one hundred fifty acres 
adjoining the grant. 166 Evidently , Jonathan Miller like most of 
these hardworking Brethren farmers was doing very well. 
This Ashe County Brethren settlement survived the dif- 
ficulties of infancy and is today the Flat Rock congregation of 
the Church of the Brethren. The local congregational 
historian, Clayton B. Miller, who served many years as the 
pastor of the congregation, granted the credit for the per- 
manency of the Flat Rock congregation to the work of 
Jonathan Miller. Much of the early history is based on family 
tradition, for the descendants of John Bowers and of Jonathan 
Miller still live in the area, but it is worth repeating for the 
human interest it adds: 

Jonathan Miller's wagon was the first to come down 
Buffalo Creek. He came through what is now Warrens- 
ville. A Carpenter [Zimmerman] family lived there, 
which must have been that of Matthias Carpenter. A pig 
followed Jonathan Miller's wagon. Margaret, a 

165. Stokes County Deed Books, III, 273; Rowan County Deed Books, IX, 643-644; 
XVIII, 220, 221, 222. 

166. Wilkes County Deed Books, C-l, 258; Ashe County Deed Books, on microfilm in the 
State Archives, B, 197, 162, 488. 


daughter of Carpenter, said she is going to have that pig 
for her wedding. She did. Presently, Jonathan Miller and 
she were married. Jonathan Miller was born in 1776 and 
died in 1854. Margaret Carpenter Miller was a good 
woman but never joined the church. She lived to be 83 
years of age. According to Fred Welch, she owned 
slaves, but her husband, Jonathan, did not. In those days, 
slave-owners were not permitted to join the Church of 
the Brethren. 

In the Census of 1790 or 1791, Matthias Carpenter is 
listed as being in Surry County, of which Stokes and 
Forsyth were then a part. It may be that Jonathan 
Miller had earlier acquaintance with the Carpenter 
family and was influenced by them to come to Ashe 
County. Matthias Carpenter came from Pennsylvania 
and at that time settled on or near New River in Ashe 

Jonathan Miller settled on the place now owned by 
Fred Welch in the Flat Rock community. Sally 
Shoemaker thinks he belonged to the Church of the 
Brethren when he came to Ashe County and to the 
present area of Flat Rock Church. This Jonathan Miller 
is the ancestor of the first set of Floyd Welch's, Sr., 
children on their mother's side. D. P. Welch was one of 
those children. Hence we may say he was the ancestor of 
Flat Rock. 167 

In spite of the significant contribution of Jonathan Miller, 
the evidence is clear-cut that a Brethren congregation had 
been established in the Ashe County area before Jonathan 
Miller arrived. Quite possibly, Gasper Rowland had 
organized the congregation when he lived in the area in the 
middle 1790's. As an elder, he could have ordained John 
Bowers as a minister and provided for the continuation of the 
services of worship and the administration of the ordinances 

167. Miller, "Flat Rock," page 2. 


after his departure. This pattern was similar to that which the 
evidence indicates that he followed in organizing Brethren 
congregations in Tennessee and in Kentucky. 


Quite obviously, the Brethren were very active in the 
Carolinas in the eighteenth century. Altogether some eleven 
different settlements have been described in this chapter, and 
very probably some of these involved a number of different 
sub-divisions which may have been separate groups. Of these 
eleven only two, Fraternity and Ashe County, became per- 
manent congregations, thus indicating the very transient 
nature of these frontier settlements. In many of these areas 
the Brethren were quite clearly among the earliest settlers in 
the area ; in other words, they were pioneering on the unbroken 
frontier. In at least one area along the Catawba River, a 
number of Brethren became victims of Indian attacks in the 
1750's. The Brethren were one group of Germans who were 
very active along the frontier, for they did not wait for others 
to move to the frontier and endure all of the hard work and 
suffering. The point-of-view has prevailed for too long in the 
study of American history that the Scotch-Irish and the 
English were doing the pioneering, and the Germans came 
along after them and reaped all of the benefits of some one 
else's hard work. Let the evidence put that myth to rest! 



By the end of the nineteenth century the Church of the 
Brethren had moved into new areas of North and South 
Carolina and had established a number of new congregations. 
However, much of this growth came near the end of the cen- 
tury in a wave of enthusiasm which spread across the entire 
country. The early years of the century had been years of 
difficulty and of a struggle for survival involving the problems 
that had developed in the late eighteenth century. The 
Fraternity congregation provides an excellent illustration of 
the course of Brethren history during the nineteenth century. 


With the departure of Jehu Burkhart, the elder of the 
Fraternity congregation, for Ohio sometime in the first decade 
of the nineteenth century, the responsibility for the leadership 
of the congregation fell on the shoulders of Isaac Faw, who 
celebrated his thirty-seventh birthday in 1810. For the 
remaining quarter of a century of his life, "laboring through 
prayers and tears in adverse circumstances he held his little 
band together, meeting in private homes or wherever con- 
venient to worship the God they loved according to the dictates 
of their own conscience, and meeting for their annual Love 
Feast service," as the congregational historians described 
him in 1940. 1 

The Moravians, who were neighbors of the Brethren, 
continued to be reminded occasionally of the presence of their 

I.H.J. Woodie, J. P. Robertson, W. AA. Robertson, and Dorothy Robertson, "History of 
the Fraternity Church," about 1940, unpublished typescript, page 1. Hereinafter cited as 
Woodie and others, "Fraternity Church." 


fellow sectarians. The diarist at Salem recorded in October, 
1819 that in the Moravian community of Hope "few attended 
the meetings because a Tunker preacher was baptizing in 
Muddy Creek, two miles from there." Although there is no 
indication whether the preacher was Isaac Faw or someone 
visiting the Brethren, the Fraternity Brethren were obviously 
continuing to make an impact on the community. Some nine 
years later, it was reported that "a Free Dunker (or Bearded 
Man) preached on Salem Square," which was certainly a bold 
step indeed. The Moravian record indicated that he "did not 
win much approbation." In a typically sectarian gesture, the 
Moravian "church had been refused him, although some 
members seemed to want him to use it." Finally, in May, 1835 
one of the Moravian ministers indicated that he had recently 
preached in a nearby schoolhouse "following a Tunker 

This preacher, Friedr. Hauser, (Houser), declared in the 
beginning that he was not in the habit of taking a text for his 
sermon because, as he said, from a single passage of scripture 
almost anything could be proved, and his congregation could 
be misled; but he would choose today Hebrews 1:1, a text that 
gave him opportunity to pass from book to book through the 
Bible, displaying his truly wonderful knowledge of the 
passages of scripture, so that an adult member of the 
congregation said: "He told us everything he knew by heart 
out of the Bible." 2 

This fascinating commentary provides an insight into the 
patterns of Brethren preaching in the early nineteenth cen- 

Unfortunately, this Brethren minister, Friedr. Hauser, is 
completely unknown in Brethren history. No evidence con- 
nects him with the Carolina Brethren and he likely was just 
visiting in the area at this time. There may have been some 
relation between his presence and the death of Isaac Faw in 

2. Fries and others, Records of the Moravians, VII, 3405; VIM, 3861; VIII, 4194-4195. 


1835, an event which according to the traditional accounts left 
the congregational without a leader. "In 1835 Elder Isaac Faw 
was called to lay down the mantle and go to his eternal reward, 
leaving the church . . . without a leader." 3 

This very difficult period of survival without a leader 
came to an end after a decade when Isaac's youngest son, 
Jacob, "heard the call of God to take up the work of his 
father." There was one major stumbling block: Not only was 
he unordained, he was unbaptized. Although the story seems 
like the figment of some imagination, the writer of Jacob 
Faw's obituary, Dr. F. P. Tucker, reported without hesitation 
that "he rode on horseback more than a hundred miles into 
Virginia to be baptized." 4 The most detailed account of Jacob 
Faw's early life as a Brethren was written by Daniel Peters in 
a history of the Church of the Brethren in Franklin County, 
Virginia: "At one time a man from North Carolina, by the 
name of Jacob Faw, not knowing Bro. [John] Bowman's given 
name or address, but wishing to learn something from him of 
the Brethren church, wrote a letter, addressed to Preacher 
Bowman, Rocky Mountain, Va., the countyseat of Franklin 
County." Bowman of course responded, whereupon Faw 
"came to his home on Friday evening, talked with him on 
Saturday, making known all of his wishes. On Sunday morning 
he accompanied Bro. Bowman to his preaching point. After 
the services he was baptized into Christ, I being one of the 
witnesses of this impressive scene." The fellowship that was 
established on this trip continued, for "soon afterward the 
Brethren of this county began preaching down there, going two 
or three times a year, on horseback. In a short time Bro. Faw 
was called to the ministry, and soon to the eldership." 5 

Jacob Faw's dedication to the leadership of the small flock 

3. Woodie and others, "Fraternity Church," page 1. 

4. F. P. Tucker, "Elder Jacob Faw-Biographical Sketch of an Exemplary Man-His 
Faith-The Dunkard Church," The Union Republican, Winston, North Carolina, June 16, 
1887, page 1. Hereinafter cited as Tucker, "Elder Jacob Faw." 

5. Daniel Peters, "The Brethren Church in Franklin County, Virginia," Brethren 
Family Almanac, 1909, pages 32 33. 


of Brethren did not miraculously solve all of the problems. In a 
letter in 1853 to members of the Hyer (Heier) family who had 
moved to Ohio, he noted: "Our church here is not increasing 
but we still indevor to be faithful over a few things." That life 
in North Carolina had its discouragements was indicated by 
the fact that he had been thinking about "going to a free state 
where the brethren is more prosperous but it don't seem like I 
can ever leave this country as long as there is any church here, 
and as long as I am here." In addition to the problems created 
for the Brethren by their refusal to have anything to do with 
the institution of slavery, Faw noted that "our prospects in 
church matters here is not good on account of the numerous 
sects that is more popular and pleasing to carnal minds and 
the pride of life and fashions of the day." Over and above all of 
the problems of this world, he was seeking "a country that is a 
Heavenly country." 6 

Evidently, Jacob Faw was able to provide the strong 
leadership necessary to enable the Fraternity Church of the 
Brethren to survive through the many problems of the mid- 
nineteenth century. According to Tucker's obituary: "I am 
told that the church had declined in numbers during the in- 
terval between his father's death and his ordination to the 
ministry, and that by his personal efforts new life was infused 
into it, so that it was soon brought up to its former prosperous 
condition having built several years ago [a] neat house of 
worship." 7 

The building of the congregation's first house of worship 
was certainly an evidence of the prosperous condition of the 
group. It was constructed in 1860 "on the brow of the hill 
overlooking the vallies of Muddy Creek and Salem Creek on 
the border lines of Edwin Hanes and Jacob Faw." According 
to the congregational historians: 

6. Jacob and Sarah Faw to Wesley and Susannah Hyer, Forsyth Co., N. C, April 25, 
1853, quoted in Faw, "Faw Family." 

7. Tucker, "Elder Jacob Faw," page 1. 


In building the church house they selected from the virgin 
forests around them the stoutest and best of the trees. With its 
hand-hewn log framing plugged firmly together with small 
oak pegs in the place of nails, and an inner wall of crude, but 
enduring brick, it is good for generations to come. Back of the 
auditorium is a tiny bare kitchen with an open fireplace where 
the ladies prepared the Lord's supper. The only furnishings in 
the auditorium are the hard narrow slab benches "pegged" 
together and worn to a finely polished smoothness by 
generations of devout worshipers, and the hand made table on 
which rests a huge Bible. 8 

Surely the construction of such a meeting house was a major 
undertaking by the small group of Fraternity Brethren. 

Jacob Faw's appearance and personality have been 
described in the following terms: 

Jacob Faw was a man with long, curly black hair and dark 
eyes. He wore a full beard, although he trimmed his upper lip 
some. He had a very dominant personality and was strict both 
with himself and with others. He was against the use of all by- 
words even down to the word "ouch," and it is said that he 
would not let anyone work for him who would swear. He 
refused to own slaves, although his friends and neighbors, the 
Sides, with whom the family intermarried, owned slaves. As a 
preacher, he did not have a very strong voice. He was known 
as a good Bible student and as one who preached long ser- 
mons. He had the mannerism of rocking on his feet as he spoke 
and keeping his hands perfectly quiet. 

The following is a true incident from his life: One day 
Jacob caught two men in the act of stealing meat from his 
smokehouse. One man was inside handing the meat to the 
other one outside. The man on the outside saw Jacob and ran, 
Jacob quietly took his place receiving the meat. Finally, the 
man inside said, "Shall we leave the old man one piece?" 
"Yes," replied Jacob. He told the men he would let them go if 
they would never steal again. He gave them a gift of meat and 
sent them on their way. 9 

8. Woodie and others, "Fraternity Church," page 1. 

9. Quoted in Faw, "Faw Family." 


Further testimony to Faw's honesty and integrity comes from 
Tucker, who remembered that Faw "disposed of the products 
of his farm in Salem, where his easily recognized form will be 
missed." It was the general practice for his customers to 
accept "whatever he had to sell at his own weight or measure, 
an exception to a rule very probably not made in behalf of any 
other man who trades in Winston-Salem, thus paying tribute 
by their confidence to his sterling honesty and truthfulness." 
Tucker concluded: "It is true that honesty and truthfulness 
were conspicuous traits of his character, but no more honest, 
truthful and moral man ever commanded the public con- 
fidence to the extent that he did, and therefore we must look 
for the explanation of the general esteem in which he was held 
in his faithful and unwavering discharge of duty, as he saw it, 
to God and man." Such a character led Tucker to comment: 
"It is then as a model man of God, especially, that he is known 
and revered. For half a century he has been a prominent 
figure in the community, towering far above all other men as a 
model for Christian living." 10 

This exemplary man was married about 1835 to Sarah 
Martin and over a period of more than twenty years from 1836 
to 1857 they had eight children: Rebecca, Amos, Jonah, Rhoda, 
Maria, Mary, Nancy, and Eliza. Although Jacob Faw had 
indicated in a letter of 1853 when he was forty-two years old 
that he had a "weakly constitution and I cannot already hold 
out to labor as I used to do," he nevertheless lived for an ad- 
ditional thirty-four years until his death on June 4, 1887. By 
that time he had five living children, thirty-six grandchildren, 
and several great-grandchildren. He died within a quarter- 
mile of his birthplace and the funeral was held in his home 
with services conducted by James Hall, a Moravian minister, 
"after which an unusually large concourse of relatives and 
friends in profound sorrow, but not without hope, followed his 
honored remains to their last resting place in the family burial 
ground." Thus came to an end the life of a man whose death 

10. Tucker, "Elder Jacob Faw," page 1. 


caused the community to suffer "the loss of an old and 
familiar landmark, a good neighbor and useful citizen; his 
church a faithful minister, wise counselor and devout servant 
of God; and his relatives a kind, tender and loving father and 
grandfather." 11 

By the time of the death of Jacob Faw in 1887, a very 
important development had taken place which made a major 
impact on the Fraternity congregation. In 1866 this North 
Carolina congregation became a part of the newly organized 
District of First Virginia, which included the northern and 
eastern part of North Carolina. In the organization of church 
districts in the Church of the Brethren which took place im- 
mediately after the Civil War, the North Carolina 
congregations were divided between the District of First 
Virginia and the District of Tennessee, with Fraternity and 
Flat Rock in Ashe County becoming part of First Virginia and 
Brummets Creek in Mitchell County going to Tennessee. 12 
Granted the geographical locations of these congregations and 
the transportation system of that period, this division was the 
natural and logical way to divide the territory, but in the long 
run, establishing the North Carolina congregations as a 
separate district might very well have tended to strengthen 
the church in that state. At any rate, since the Fraternity 
congregation now became a part of the Virginia story, its 
further history will not be given in this Carolina story. 


Virtually nothing is known about the development of the 
Church of the Brethren in this two county area (Alleghany 
County was organized out of Ashe County territory in 1859) in 
the first half of the nineteenth century. In a letter which 
Jonathan Miller, a Brethren leader in this area, wrote to his 

11. Ibid. 

12. D. H. Zigler, History of the Brethren in Virginia (Elgin: Brethren Publishing 
House, 1908), page 151. 


brother, Henry, on November 28, 1840, there is a reference to 
the prosperity of Zion, which has been implied to be a 
reference to the church. When Henry replied from Newton 
County, Missouri on July 3, 1842, he rejoiced in the prosperity of 
Zion taking place in North Carolina. 13 

Although Brethren leadership including Gasper Roland, 
John Bowers, or Jonathan Miller had lived in the Ashe County 
area continuously since the 1790's and must indicate the 
presence of an organized congregation at least that early, 
tradition indicates that the Flat Rock congregation was 
organized under Miller's leadership in his barn. On this basis 
one later record set the date of organization in 1853, since 
Miller died in 1854. 14 If the more meaningful criteria of the 
presence of leadership in the area and the maintenance of an 
active program are accepted, then this date is more than fifty 
years too late in time, and the date should be 1795. 

Over the years of the nineteenth century, the Brethren in 
Ashe County continued to be blessed by visits by ministers 
from other areas. Among these ministers and leaders from 
outside the area were John B. Weddle, C. Bowman, Isaac Reed, 
Jesse Crosswhite, Jacob Faw, D. B. Bowman, Solomon G. 
Arnold, Joseph B. Bowman, Alfred D. Reed, Jeremiah H. 
Slusher, John C. Bashor, Abraham Naff, Peter Crumpacker, 
and Isaac Naff. Most of these were from Virginia, although 
some were from Tennessee and from other parts of North 
Carolina. Typical of the work of such ministers was the visit 
by C. D. Hylton and H. P. Hylton of Virginia in the fall of 1884, 
when they held a worship service on Sunday morning, or- 
dained Henry Sheets to the eldership, and J. Gideon Lewis, 
Martin Prather, and Andrew Sheets to the ministry in the 
afternoon, and conducted a Love Feast for thirty Brethren in 
the evening. 15 

13. Miller, "Flat Rock," pages 2-3. 

14. Ibid., page 3; see also Howard Miller, The Record of the Faithful (Lewisburgh, 
Pennsylvania: J. R. Cornelius, Printer, 1882), page 27. Hereinafter cited as Howard 
Miller, The Record of the Faithful. 

15. Gospel Messenger, October 21, 1884, pages 676-677. 


This event in 1884 also typified the development of an 
indigenous ministry in the Ashe- Alleghany area. In fact, the 
earliest extant record of the Flat Rock congregation described 
a service in 1863 in which Wilson Wiett ( Wyatt) was licensed to 
the ministry in the presence of elders John Lewis, Hardin 
Hylton, and Henry Garst and ministers William E. Reed and 
Henry Garber. 16 Other ministers in the Ashe- Alleghany area 
in addition to those already mentioned included by 1900 
Matthias Miller, Adam Sheets, H. M. Prather, D. C. Davis, 
Emmanuel M. Sheets, Andrew Reed, Martin Owens, J. Hen- 
derson Miller, Jonathan Miller, and George W. Miller. 


With the development of such an extensive corps of local 
leadership the Brethren began to expand into the area 
surrounding the Flat Rock community. Some of these 
ministers including Andrew Reed, Martin Owens, H. M. 
Prather, and Martin Prather did not live in the immediate Flat 
Rock area. One of the oldest of these children of Flat Rock 
developed in the Peak Creek section of Ashe County, to which 
Andrew Sheets moved from Rowan County in 1795. This man 
was very likely a member of the Schutz family which had been 
active in the Brethren communities along the Uwharrie River 
and had later been one of the earliest settlers in the Fraternity 
community. Numerous descendants of Andrew Sheets were 
leaders in the Brethren congregations in Ashe County. These 
Brethren began, as was always the case, by conducting wor- 
ship services in the homes of the members; eventually, they 
moved into the Peak Creek school house, and finally, they built 
a church. Some of the significant 19th century leaders of the 
Peak Creek Brethren, in addition to members of the Sheets' 
family were Martin Owens and John C. Woodie. 17 

16. Miller, "Flat Rock," page 5. 

17. Clara S. Bowlin, "Local Church Historical Data-Peak Creek," April 4, 1968; Bert 
G. Richardson, "Peak Creek Church Notes." 



Another present-day congregation which was established 
during these years was Pleasant Valley, which was called 
Pleasant Ridge until 1904. The worship services were con- 
ducted in the May Apple Knob school house after its con- 
struction in 1870. Evidently, the most important leader of this 
group of Brethren was Andrew Reed, although most of the 
Ashe County ministers contributed to the development of the 
congregation. 18 


Still a third child of the Flat Rock Brethren was organized 
at Mt. Carmel under the leadership of Henry Sheets and 
others. The earliest Brethren families included the Nat 
Moxleys, the John Blevans, the Norman Jones, and the Allen 
Richardsons. This group of Brethren erected a wooden 
meeting house about forty by sixty feet about 1890. 19 

The evidence seems to indicate that the relationship of 
these four groups of Brethren was modified about 1888. 
Although the Flat Rock records are not completely clear at 
this point, probably a number of members were transferred to 
other congregations in that year. At any rate, after 1888 the 
Flat Rock records no longer refer to the Church of Ashe 
County but begin to refer to the Flat Rock Church. 20 Thus, it 
would seem that some of the children were reaching sufficient 
maturity to become more independent of the mother 

18. No author, "Historical Data ■• Pleasant Valley," July 20,1957. 

19. Pauline Jones, "Historical Data--Mt. Carmel," no date. 

20. Miller, "Flat Rock," page 3. 



One group of Brethren which was organized during these 
years but did not achieve permanence was located on Ben 
Bowlin Creek in the Three Top area. The leader of this group 
of Brethren before his death in the early 1880's was Hendrick 
Prather, who was also serving in 1881 as the elder of the entire 
Ashe County Brethren congregation. He was followed by 
Henry Sheets who came from Flat Rock to preach regularly. 
Also, Hendrick's son, Marian Prather, was a minister in the 
church in the Three Top area. Later his son, Tom, who was also 
a minister, went to Schoolfield (Danville), Virginia. Evidently, 
the death of some of the members together with the 
emigration of others brought about a discouraging situation to 
which the best solution seemed to be the disorganization of the 
group. 21 


Still another group of Brethren who organized a 
congregation which has not survived established the Long 
Hope congregation in 1890 with about twelve members. Under 
the prodding of various Ashe County ministers such as J. H. 
Miller, Henry Sheets, A. J. Reed, J. C. Woody, and Marian 
Prather, the congregation grew; in 1893 it was reported that 
there were now twenty members and in 1894 after additional 
baptisms the membership reached thirty-five. A Sunday 
School had been organized and the evidence seems to indicate 
that the regular meetings were being held in a meeting house, 
although there is no specific information about its con- 
struction. For various reasons probably directly related to the 
poverty of the area the congregation did not survive the 
vicissitudes of the twentieth century. 22 

21. Ibid., page 4. 

22. Gospel Messenger, July 11, 1893, page 429; January 23, 1894, page 60. 



In contrast, the mother congregation at Flat Rock had 
been developing steadily during the years following the Civil 
War. In 1874 the Brethren at Flat Rock built their first meeting 
house. Previously, they had met in the homes of the members ; 
the records reveal that in 1863 the Brethren met at David 
Millers, in 1865 at Mary Millers, and in 1866 at Adam Sheetses. 
The meeting house was re-located and rebuilt in 1887, and has 
continued to serve the congregational needs in the twentieth 
century. One of the very up-to-date developments among 
Brethren during these years was a Sunday School, and the 
Brethren at Flat Rock organized their first Sunday School 
while they were worshipping in their first meeting house. 
George Miller, who conducted the Sunday School in the second 
meeting house, was the first recorded superintendent. Ac- 
cording to Clayton B. Miller in a history of the Flat Rock 
congregation, "The Sunday School was a great means of 
maintaining the life and influence of the church through the 
following years." 23 

The Flat Rock congregation not only attempted to guide 
the lives of its members by educating them properly, it also 
was willing to follow the Brethren pattern of disciplining its 
members. It is recorded that in the early 1870's Jesse Sheets, a 
minister, got into some difficulty which merited the attention 
of the congregational council. An investigating committee was 
appointed, and its recommendations were accepted by the 
council: "We the committee with the church do think ac- 
cording to evidence and the gospel Bro. Jesse should be 
silenced and deposed from his office until he should reform 
and become a better light and if he will make 
acknowledgements of his faults in the presence of Bro. Mat- 
thias Miller, Joseph Garber, and David Miller to satisfy the 
church he may be retained as a private member and, if not, he 
is put in the first degree of excommunication, that is from 

23. Miller, "Flat Rock," page 4. 


church council, the kiss, and the communion." 24 This type of 
action was certainly not distinctive among the North Carolina 
Brethren but rather was typical of the rather rigid, 
authoritarian pattern which prevailed in the sect-group of the 
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

Much of the prosperity of the Ashe-Alleghany 
congregations in the closing decades of the nineteenth century 
must be credited to the dedicated and sacrificial work of 
Henry Sheets, who became the elder of the Flat Rock 
congregation in 1884 and who was closely connected with some 
of the other groups of Brethren. As a nineteen year old when 
the Civil War began in 1861, Sheets had spent two years in the 
Confederate Army; according to tradition, he always shot high 
in order to miss his target. After surviving that experience, he 
married Emily Wyatt, quite possibly a relative of Wilson 
Wyatt who was licensed to the ministry at Flat Rock in 1863. At 
any rate, Henry Sheets decided to become a Brethren and was 
baptized by Washington Dove from Tennessee. The Brethren 
recognized talent, and in 1880 Sheets was called to the ministry 
and in 1884 he was ordained as an elder and placed in charge of 
the Flat Rock congregation. In 1893 it was reported that in 
contrast to about forty-five members scattered over a large 
territory in 1879, there were now about one hundred fifty 
members in four organized congregations. It was noted in this 
report that Henry Sheets was the head of the church in this 
area and would serve on the Standing Committee at the for- 
thcoming Annual Conference. Unfortunately, his health began 
to fail, and in February, 1897, he was able to be back at church 
after an illness lasting three months. Finally, in October, 1898 
he resigned as elder after fourteen years and was replaced by 
Emmanuel Sheets. 25 

One of the reasons for the growth of membership during 
these years was the addition of evangelistic meetings to the 

24. Ibid. 

25. Gospel Messenger, May 11, 1918, page 303; February 7, 1893, page 93; May 13, 1897, 
page 173; November 5, 1898, page 701. 


program of the church. The wave of revivalism brought about 
by D. L. Moody hit the Brethren hard, even though they had 
not been very much effected by previous revival movements. 
In the Flat Rock congregation, for example, it was reported in 
1898 that J. C. Woodie, Eli Reed, and W. H. Handy had con- 
ducted meetings with the result that five had been added to the 
church membership; again in 1900 A. J. Reed, W. A. Reed, and 
W. H. Handy held special meetings which led to the baptizing 
of twelve. 26 

By the end of the century, the Brethren in Ashe and 
Alleghany Counties had become much more permanently 
established and organized than they had been one hundred 
years--or even fifty years-earlier. There were now at least 
four organized congregations and some additional places at 
which worship services were being conducted. There was a 
strong staff of indigenous leadership to guide the program, 
which in itself had been expanded by the addition of Sunday 
Schools and of evangelistic meetings. The Brethren indeed 
appeared to have come to this area to stay! 


The earliest record of Brethren in this area indicates that 
about 1797 a Bowman family moved from Tennessee across 
the state line into what was then Burke County, North 
Carolina. These Brethren are considered the first members of 
the church in the mountainous wilderness of what later 
became Yancey County in 1833. Evidently, the Brethren found 
something in this area which pleased them, for additional 
members began to move into the area. How early there was a 
resident minister and regular services of worship is not 
known, but in 1844 a congregation was organized in Yancey 
County under the leadership of Henry Masters with Peter 

26. Ibid., December 24, 1898, page 813; March ll,1900,page 157. 


Peterson as a minister. 27 Henry Masters is also identified in 
another connection as officiating along with John Nead at the 
ordination of Daniel Brubaker in the Limestone church in 
Tennessee in 1847. 

Very little is known about the years immediately after the 
organization of a Brethren congregation in Yancey County. In 
a biographical sketch of Joseph Wine, an elder from 
Washington County, Tennessee, he is reported to have served 
with Henry Garst on a committee appointed by the Annual 
Meeting of 1879 to visit the Brummetts Creek congregation "to 
settle a church trouble." The committee was quite successful 
in its mission, and "after the difficulty was amicably and 
pleasantly adjusted a series of meetings was held by the two 
elders jointly, and the power of God came upon them. Forty 
accepted Christ and were received into church fellowship." 28 
Certainly, that committee was successful in more ways than 

This emphasis on evangelism became an important part 
of the survival of the Church of the Brethren in the mountains 
of western North Carolina and was reflected in Yancey and 
Mitchell 29 Counties. By 1882 the membership had increased 
from the original twelve members in 1844 to one hundred two. 
The mother congregation known as Brummetts Creek had 
constructed a meeting house in 1852 in order to meet the 
spiritual needs of the Brethren. In addition, a second meeting 
house had been built for the neighboring Brethren at Yellow 
Poplar. To provide leadership there were seven resident 
ministers including Hiram Peterson, who was the presiding 
elder, J. W. Bradshaw,H. M. Griffith, S. M. Laughrun, Samuel 
Tipton, Moses Miller, and Elhanan Peterson. In addition to 
Brummetts Creek and Yellow Poplar, a third center of activity 

27. M. Nead, "Historical Sketch of the Brethren in Tennessee," Brethren's Family 
Almanac, 1890, [page 15]. Hereinafter cited as Nead, "Brethren in Tennessee." 

28. D. L. Miller ana Galen B. Royer, Some Who Led (Elgin: Brethren Publishing 
House, 1912), page 135. 

29. Mitchell County was oganized in 1861 with territory from five adjacent counties 
including Yancey County. 


had developed known as Elk Shoals. 30 The activity at Elk 
Shoals provides an enigma, for there is no further mention in 
the records of such a place. 


By the end of the nineteenth century, the Brethren in 
Mitchell County had organized another congregation and were 
also holding services in a location which would eventually 
become a congregation. In the Pleasant Grove area north of 
Red Hill the Masters and the Harrell families led out in the 
development of a Brethren settlement. The first Love Feast 
was held in the barn of Jake Masters, and during the summer 
services were held under the trees on his farm. Henry 
Masters was conducting services here at least as 
early as 1850. Meetings were also held in some of the 
homes including that of Wiley Harrell. After 1891 the Brethren 
met in the school house which was located near the site where 
the Brethren eventually built a church. Finally, in 1894 a new 
congregation was organized known as Pleasant Grove. Elders 
J. W. Bradshaw and H. M. Griffith from Brummetts Creek 
moderated the organizational meeting. Elbert Harrell was 
elected as minister of the congregation, and Wiley Harrell and 
Don Masters became the first deacons. Others who served as 
ministers were Hoke Masters, H. M. Griffith, Robert Willis, 
and Joseph Griffith. 31 The pattern followed in the develop- 
ment and organization of this Brethren congregation seemed 
to be similar to what was taking place in dozens of locations 
across the country. 

30. Howard Miller, The Record of the Faithful, pages 29-30. 

31. Mrs. Etta W. Bryant, "Local Church Historical Data-Pleasant Grove," August 24, 



At about the same time that the Pleasant Grove 
congregation was being organized, the Brummetts Creek 
ministers were holding meetings at the F. Benjamin Bailey 
school house in Mitchell County. In May of 1893 it was reported 
that Elhanan Peterson and Marion Laughrun had conducted 
meetings which resulted in the baptism of seven people. Such 
public baptisms in a nearby stream were frequently deeply 
moving spiritual experiences, for in this case it was noted that 
some two hundred people had witnessed the baptisms. Again 
the following year, Peterson and Laughrun were back at the 
Bailey school for two sermons a day from Wednesday until 
Sunday of the last week of April, and four persons were bap- 
tized and two were reclaimed for the church. 32 Although it 
was reported that the church was progressing, the evidence 
seems to indicate that the formal organization of a 
congregation did not take place until after the turn of the 


The mother congregation at Brummetts Creek was also 
feeling the impact of the emphasis on evangelism. At a series 
of meetings from August 12 to 20, 1893 the local ministers in- 
cluding J. W. Bradshaw,H. M. Griffith, S. M. Laughrun, and A. 
M. Laughrun had a very successful experience (as measured 
by numbers) in which thirty-four people were baptized and 
nine were reclaimed for the church. One wonders how many of 
those thirty-four people were children from Brethren families 
and how many of them were being brought into the church 
from non-Brethren backgrounds. Again in November, 1898 it 
was reported that a total of eighteen had been baptized and 
one reclaimed as the result of a series of meetings at Brum- 

32. Gospel Messenger, June 13, 1893, page 365; May 22, 1894, page 332. 


metts Creek. 33 Of course, these meetings should be considered 
typical of the general practice of the times and not as in- 
cluding everything that was happening, since the record is 
quite incomplete. 

Some of the evangelistic meetings were being conducted 
by visiting ministers. For example, P. D. Reed, a minister 
from the Limestone congregation in Tennessee, reported that 
he traveled in Mitchell and Yancey Counties in January of 
1894. He preached in at least two homes including Jef . Bailey's 
in Yancey County and Elhanan Griffith's; in addition, he held 
a service in the "old Hollow Poplar Church near where E. 
Peterson lived," and he conducted six meetings in the mother 
church at Brummetts Creek. Contrary to the usual practice, he 
did not indicate statistically the results of his visit in North 
Carolina, 34 

The life and work of these Brethren ministers of the 
nineteenth century was admirably summarized by Mathias 
Nead, who knew many of them personally, in a history of the 
Tennessee Brethren which he wrote in 1890: 

Of the ministers who served the church in the earlier 
years of its history, and who have long since passed away, we 
will give a passing word. With what earnestness and zeal, they 
contended for the faith and doctrines of the church, some will 
still remember. Their number for years was quite small and 
the scattered membership, giving them numerous calls for 
preaching, necessarily made their labor heavy, and self- 
sacrificing. For this, their chief earthly reward was the joyous 
greeting with which they were met by those whom they visited, 
and for whom they preached, and the consciousness of a faith- 
ful discharge of their duty. 

He continued by describing in some detail their varied ability, 
and then concluded that "they all had a fond place in the 
hearts of their brethren. And the anxiety with which they were 
expected at the love feast, or district meeting, and the love and 

33. I bid., September 19, 1893, page 590; December 3, 1898, page 765. 

34. Ibid., February 13, 1894, page 110. 


joy with which their appearance was greeted on such oc- 
casions is remembered only by the older members of the 
church here." 35 

It was this kind of dedication and sacrificial love which 
enabled the church in Mitchell and Yancey Counties to sur- 
vive. The economic hardships of the mountainous area were 
very great and posed a very great handicap. Also, the isolated 
character of the settlement made it difficult for the group of 
Brethren to maintain contact and to keep abreast of outside 
trends and developments, which was to prove to be another 
handicap. All in all, it was a very difficult area in which to 
build the Church of the Brethren. 


The final area of permanent Brethren settlements in the 
Carolinas has centered in the Polk County, North Carolina 
area, although the Brethren have expanded from this home 
base into several neighboring counties, as they usually do. 
This general section along the state line between North and 
South Carolina would hardly fit into the type of territory in 
which the Brethren would be expected to develop a series of 
congregations. It depends economically primarily on cotton 
and lumber, which have never been Brethren strengths. As a 
result, the introduction of the Brethren ideas into this section 
was entirely the work of one dedicated man. 

George A. Branscom was born on April 9, 1855 in 
Washington County, Tennessee. As a young man he became 
associated with the Knob Creek Church of the Brethren. 
Because of the death of his parents when he was a child, he had 
never been able to secure even a rudimentary education. It 
was not surprising, therefore, that when an itinerant teacher 
from South Carolina named Jim Taylor came into the Knob 
Creek area, George Branscom became an industrious and 

35. Nead, "Brethren in Tennessee," [page 15] 


ambitious twenty-one year old pupil. Because George was 
such a good pupil and because a corn-cutting accident had 
caused him to lose part of the index finger on his left hand, 
Taylor agreed to take young George along with him to help 
solicit pupils for his school. 

One of their first stops was in Henderson County, North 
Carolina. Two of the pupils were Hattie and Ellie Sanders who 
were visiting relatives and signed up for the school. They then 
invited Taylor and Branscom to come to their home in Polk 
County to teach a school. It seems that Branscom agreed to go 
to Polk County to make arrangements for a school, while 
Taylor visited friends in a neighboring county. Evidently, 
Taylor never did get to Polk County, but Branscom found other 
employment and remained there. 

Because George Branscom was a deeply religious man 
who did not hesitate to discuss his Brethren ideas with others, 
he was soon discussing religion with his new neighbors. J. E. 
Miller in telling this story has very well described Branscom 's 
approach: "He ever carried with him a New Testament, and 
as opportunity afforded he read his New Testament to others 
and explained its meaning. He was well versed in the 
teachings and practices of the Church of the Brethren." Even 
though the people in that area had never heard of the Brethren, 
"George had a way of telling his story so that folks listened 
and before they knew it they were interested in what he had to 
say." In the evenings after work, "George would get out his 
little Testament and explain the practices of his church, 
always reading from the Book the passages on which the 
practice was based. Naturally things began to take definite 

However, George Branscom was not an ordained minister 
in the church, and the people wanted to discuss this religion in 
more detail with a minister. He wrote to his friends in Ten- 
nessee urging them to send a minister to visit him in Polk 
County. However, the Tennessee Brethren refused since it was 
more than a hundred miles, the mountains were too difficult to 


cross, and "the moonshiners of Polk County were numerous 
and hostile." Such a reluctance did not daunt the young man's 
spirit, and he continued to discuss his Brethren ideas per- 
suasively with his friends. Finally, he had the kind of message 
that the ministers in Tennessee could not reject! Seven heads 
of families were ready to be baptized! 


Two Tennessee elders, Frederick Washington Dove and 
Andy Vines, saddled their horses and began the long journey 
into North Carolina. Arriving in Polk County on April 20, 1878, 
they remained until April 29. During these days they held a 
number of meetings and baptized eight people: Mrs. Rebecca 
Home, Mrs. Jane Hinsdale, Mrs. Betty Branscom (George's 
wife), Mrs. Martha Sanders, Henry and Amanda Cantrell, and 
Jake and Ellie Sanders Putnam. The baptism was performed 
by Andy Vines in the nearby Mill Creek, from which the 
congregation took its name, at Branscom's suggestion. In the 
presence of the Brethren and of a number of Baptists from 
Green's Creek, Vines said: "Today this creek has been 
christened by triune immersion." The first Love Feast was 
conducted in Cager Home's new house, which was not yet 
completed. The two visiting elders completed their work by 
organizing a new congregation with George Branscom as the 
minister, and Henry Cantrell and Jake Putnam as deacons. 
Thus began the Mill Creek congregation in 1878. 

Branscom was an enthusiastic and zealous worker in the 
Lord's harvest fields and the church grew. Typical of the way 
things developed is the story told by Ethel H. Masters in 1960: 

My grandmother, Mary Henderson, was a loyal member of 
the Green's Creek Baptist Church. She had no intention of 
"taking off" after this strange "Dunkard" doctrine. But the 
Kinchen Gilberts, bosom friends of my grandparents began 


talking to her urging her to join with them. She said, "Kinchen, 
I don't believe in being a turn coat." He replied, "Now, see dar' 
Mary, when you got your coat on wrong side out you gotta' turn 
it right side out." So grandmother joined the Dunkards. 

Evidently, Branscom was able to inspire dedicated laymen to 
witness to their beliefs as in the case of Kinchen Gilbert. Even 
though Branscom made his living by teaching school and by 
farming, he found much time to do church work, especially 
preaching which he did very well. As Miller expressed his 
impressions: "He will always be best known because of his 
preaching." 36 


By 1882 when Howard Miller published his invaluable 
statistical and historical material on the Brethren, the Mill 
Creek congregation had grown to a membership of thirty- 
eight. In addition, a second congregation had been organized 
in 1880 by George Branscom a few miles farther west in Polk 
County near Saluda, known as Green River Cove. It also had 
grown from eight charter members to a membership of 
twenty-one. Indigenous leadership including E.J. Bradley and 
Samuel Jones had been assigned the task of shepherding this 
young flock of Brethren. Neither of these young congregations 
had yet had the time and energy to erect a meeting house. 37 


Evidently, the mother congregation at Mill Creek got 
around to building a meeting house within the next decade, for 
the reports at least as early as 1893 speak of meetings in the 

36. All of the material on George Branscom has been taken from two sources: Ethel 
H. Masters, "Brethren in the Polk Area," 1960, pages 1-2; J. E. Miller, Stories from 
Brethren Life (Elgin: Brethren Publishing House, 1942), pages 81-84. 

37. Howard Miller, The Record of the Faithful, pages 29-30. 


Mill Creek church. From this center of operations the 
Brethren were spreading out across several nearby counties. 
For example, in April of 1893 four persons were baptized in the 
Pacolet River in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. This 
event was probably one of the early developments that came 
to a climax about 1906 in the organization of the Brooklyn 
Church of the Brethren. Although the evidence is not available, 
it seems quite likely that the Brethren were also witnessing in 
the Melvin Hill community by 1900, for a congregation was 
organized there in 1906. 

In the home congregation at Mill Creek the program of 
evangelism continued to make a considerable impact on the 
community. If 1893 may be considered a typical year (and one 
for which statistics are available), meetings were held from 
August 4 to 13 by William Lawter of Dimsdale, North Carolina, 
who had just arrived from "the West" the previous year. As a 
result twenty-seven people were baptized; it was further 
reported that in the five months from April 1 to September 1, 
forty new members had been taken into the church. In 
November three more were baptized. To provide continued 
leadership, three men were called to the ministry by casting 
lots (the usual procedure at that time) at a congregational 
council in September: J. F. Branscom, J. G. Lawton, and 
Thomas Green way. Of the three only one was past forty years 
of age. 38 

George Branscom continued to live in the Polk County 
area for the remainder of his long life, and under his general 
supervision the two congregations at Mill Creek and Melvin 
Hill developed into permanent congregations. The foundations 
had been securely established in the last two decades of the 
nineteenth century and on these foundations a permanent 
edifice had been erected, which was certainly a remarkable 
testimony to the faith and dedication of the one man who had 
gotten the whole thing started. 

38. Gospel Messenger, May 23, 1893, page 334; September 12, 1893, page 572; Sep- 
tember 26, 1893, page 605; November 28, 1893, page 748. 




One excellent example of the far-flung influence of the 
millions of pieces of tract literature which the Brethren were 
publishing in the years from 1880 to 1914 was the organization 
of the Oak Grove congregation in eastern North Carolina some 
seventy miles southeast of Raleigh in Lenoir County in the 
closing decade of the nineteenth century. The very limited 
evidence on this development indicates that a minister named 
Louis Foss had gathered together a group of people who 
organized a Church of God and held meetings in an old log 
house. As early as 1896 Foss had become dissatisfied with his 
religious beliefs, and after reading Brethren tracts (where did 
he get them, the historian wonders?), his ideas changed and 
the group seemed to consider themselves Brethren; in that 
year it was reported that there was a small Brethren church in 
La Grange, North Carolina. 

As the tracts suggested, Foss evidently wrote to the 
General Mission Board and Tract Committee of the German 
Baptist Church, which had been reorganized with that title in 
1895. In response to his earnest inquiry, two Brethren, H. C. 
Early and J. M. Cline,came to North Carolina from Virginia to 
visit this group of interested seekers. After extensive 
discussions, Foss and his followers held a congregational 
council on September 17, 1900 and decided to re-organize as a 
Brethren congregation. H. C. Early was elected elder of the 
new congregation and Louis Foss was ordained as a minister ; 
of course, the charter members were baptized as Brethren. 
The Mission Board indicated its continuing interest in this 
area by sending N. N. Garst as a home mission worker. 39 In 
spite of the effectiveness of the Brethren tracts and in spite of 
the investment in time and money expended by Early, Garst, 

39. Ibid., December 12, 1896, page 795; October 4, 1902, page 640. 


Foss, and others, it has proven to be a very difficult task to 
build a Brethren congregation when there is no nucleus of 
Brethren around which to build. The Oak Grove congregation 
did not have this nucleus and it did not survive in the twentieth 


From the very shakey situation in 1800 when the Brethren 
in the Carolinas were struggling to survive the difficulties of 
the Universalist schism and the death or emigration of most of 
the leadership of the group, the Brethren had developed 
steadily and remarkably during the course of the years down 
to 1900. Both of the two settlements in 1800 had survived and 
indeed the Ashe County Brethren had proliferated into some 
half a dozen different groups. In addition the Brethren had 
moved into Mitchell County and into Polk County and in both 
areas several congregations were on the road to achieving 

A great deal of this development can be attributed to the 
sacrifice and dedication of a group of ministers who received 
no worldly compensation for their work. Typical of this group 
was Jacob Faw of the Fraternity congregation. In his 
obituary, Tucker related that he had heard "that many years 
ago there was a couple in Salisbury who desired to be united in 
marriage by a minister who did not preach for money, and the 
selection fell upon Uncle Jacob, who arrayed in the simple 
garb of a minister of his church, officiated at a fashionable 
wedding in that town." 40 Certainly, the same thing could have 
been said about the other Brethren ministers of these years of 
the nineteenth century. It was the ability to make their own 
living as a farmer usually, and yet spend many hours in the 
work of the church that marked their devotion and that con- 
tributed significantly to the growth and development of the 
church in the Carolinas. 

40. Tucker, "Elder Jacob Faw," page 1. 



Chapter III 

The first two-thirds of the twentieth century has witnessed 
many changes in the Church of the Brethren in the Carolinas. 
For one thing, the general milieu in which the church has been 
located has changed drastically and dramatically, and the 
church has been forced to react in different ways to its 
surroundings. Some of these changes have been bewildering 
and many of them have been frustrating-and expensive. For 
another thing the Church of the Brethren has changed its basic 
practices more in the years of the twentieth century than in 
any other similar period in its history. Some Brethren have 
found it very difficult to accept all of these changes, and one of 
the results in the Carolinas was a division in the ranks. Such 
agonizing experiences frequently have the beneficial effect, 
however, of forcing a worthwhile evaluation of the church's 

During the twentieth century quite a number of new 
congregations have been organized in the Carolinas. Some of 
these have grown to become strong and healthy; others have 
barely survived; and still others have failed to survive in the 
eternal struggle. Various factors have been involved which 
need to be examined. One of the most vital problems faced by 
the Carolina Brethren has been the need for well-trained 
leadership; although many local leaders have been developed, 
the transition from the traditional free ministry to the 
professional ministry has been very difficult, and indeed for 
most of the Carolina congregations it has been impossible. 
This factor has certainly inhibited the further growth and 
development of the district. 



The oldest congregation in the district at Flat Rock was 
located in a mountain valley which was prosperous farming 
land in the 18th and 19th centuries, when this congregation 
flourished. However, the technological changes in agricultural 
production in the twentieth century have seriously effected 
such small-scale farming in the Appalachian mountain 
valleys, and the Flat Rock congregation has been one of the 

The new century seemed to get started on the wrong foot 
for the Flat Rock Brethren. The exact nature of the difficulty 
has not been recorded, but in 1908 "quite a number of members 
left the church with George Miller and went to the Union 
Baptist Church." ] The precise extent of this division cannot 
be determined because of the scarcity of congregational 
statistics. It was reported to the first District Meeting of the 
new North Carolina District in 1902 that the Flat Rock 
congregation had seventy-four members, two elders, three 
ministers, and five deacons, which made it third in mem- 
bership in the district and about as strong as any congregation 
in number of leaders. 2 It was not until 1928 that the Flat Rock 
membership was again reported to the District Meeting, when 
it was thirty-six, a drop of about fifty per cent. 3 Obviously, 
other factors had also become involved in the twenty years 
from 1908 to 1928. 

In addition to the local leadership of D. P. Welch, a great- 
grandson of the Jonathan Miller who had come to Flat Rock 
about 1800, a number of ministers from the Lewis family 
rendered significant service in helping to put the pieces back 
together after 1908. For example, Gideon Lewis from Taylors 

1. Miller, "Flat Rock," page 5. 

2. District Meeting Minutes, 1902. 

3. Ibid., 1928. 


Valley, Virginia and Reuel Pritchett from Tennessee re- 
organized the Sunday School under the leadership of D. P. 
Welch. From an average attendance of twelve in 1908, the 
Sunday School grew to an attendance of twenty in 1921? Also, 
during the year 1916, G. L. Lewis, J. G. Lewis, and S. E. Lewis 
all engaged in evangelistic meetings at Flat Rock which led to 
three baptisms. Again in 1917 one of the Lewises combined 
with Reuel Pritchett to preach nineteen sermons which led to 
three baptisms. In 1920 Frank Lewis of Kannarock, Virginia 
preached three sermons at Flat Rock, and in 1921 J. G. Lewis 
and G. L. Lewis of Taylors Valley, Virginia and James Lewis 
of Louisiana held services for the Flat Rock Brethren. From 
1928 to 1930, J. Frank Lewis of Damascus, Virginia served as 
the elder of the congregation. 5 

Probably the individual who has done more than any other 
single person to keep the Flat Rock congregation alive in the 
twentieth century has been Clayton B. Miller, who made his 
presence felt in the district at least as early as 1916 when he 
preached the missionary sermon at the District Meeting at the 
Pleasant Grove church. The district mission board subsidized 
his work among the Carolina congregations from 1918 to 1922. 
In 1920 he conducted a two week Bible School at Flat Rock, as 
the result of which there were three baptisms. Again in 1922 he 
was back for a two week Bible School, including preaching 
each evening, and eleven were baptized. Seven years later he 
spent the Thanksgiving week in the Flat Rock community 
during which time he preached five sermons. That same year 
he placed his membership in this congregation, although he 
did not become a permanent resident of the area until 1931. In 
the meantime, in 1930, at the age of forty-five, he had been 
ordained as an elder by elders, George A. Branscom and J. R. 
Jackson, and had become the pastor of the congregation, a 

4. Ibid., 1908, 1921 ; see also, Miller, "Flat Rock," page 4. 

5. Gospel Messenger, October 7, 1916, page 653; December 16, 1916, page 813; 
December 22, 1917, page 821; May 15, 1920, page 301; June 25, 1921, page 391. Yearbooks, 


position which he has continued to hold. 6 His spirit of 
dedication and of sacrifice through more than fifty years of 
service among the Carolina congregations had contributed 
immeasurably to the spiritual lives of these Brethren on the 
southern frontier. 

Over the years of the twentieth century, the Brethren at 
Flat Rock have continued to be blessed by the visits of many 
Brethren leaders from other areas. Among these were D. M. 
Glick, who taught singing classes during the Christmas 
holidays in 1924. Raymond R. Peters from Virginia held a 
revival at Flat Rock in the summer of 1927, which was closed 
with the baptism of two young boys and a Love Feast attended 
by thirty-seven including some visitors. Earlier in that 
summer there had been a Daily Vacation Bible School, which 
included four classes taught by Mr. and Mrs. F. C. Rohrer, and 
Dr. Ethel Gwin and her father. Flat Rock had held its first 
such school in 1926 under the Rohrer 's leadership, which was 
one of the earliest in the district. Also, during that busy 
summer of 1927, M. R. Zigler had visited the Flat Rock 
congregation for the first time and had preached five sermons. 
An impressive service was held on August 27 when Carl Welch 
and F. C. Rohrer were ordained as ministers, and Fred Welch 
and R. F. Lewis as deacons. Two years later, in 1929, Emmet 
Eiler was ordained as a minister. J. R. Jackson from 
Jonesboro, Tennessee was present in 1932 to hold two weeks of 
meetings at Flat Rock. The following year S. Loren Bowman 
of New Windsor, Maryland, who was the summer pastor at 
neighboring Peak Creek, directed a Daily Vacation Bible 
School. The enrollment was thirty-two with an average at- 
tendance of twenty-two. Each evening Bowman spoke on the 
ideals of Christ. 7 Certainly, these isolated North Carolina 
Brethren were fortunate to have had such outside assistance 

6. Ibid., October 16, 1920, page 629; September 9, 1922, page 573; December 14, 1929, 
page 805; December 13, 1930, page 805; Clayton B. Miller, "Historical Data," October 22, 

7. Ibid., June 27, 1925, page 413; August 13, 1927, page 525; October 1, 1927, page 636; 
September 21, 1929, page 605; April 30, 1932, page 25; August 19, 1933, page 33. 


in their program. 

In addition to the special summer Bible schools for the 
children, the Sunday School was reported in 1932 to be going 
well. The total enrollment was forty-three and the average 
attendance was 23. The young people of the congregation had 
organized a BYPD (Brethren Young People's Department) 
for the first time in 1927. The organization went by ups and 
downs, for in 1935 S. Loren Bowman helped to re-organize the 
group. Also, the women of the congregation organized an Aid 
Society during 1935 which began by having meetings every 
three weeks in the homes of the members. They engaged in 
studying together and in making quilts. 8 These women had 
entertained the District Meeting of 1934 at Flat Rock, which 
incidentally was the last time the congregation served as host 
for the meeting. 

The fact that the congregation has not been the host for a 
district meeting since 1934 symbolizes the decline of the Flat 
Rock congregation. By 1940 the membership was falling off 
and had reached twenty-three. During the 1940's the mem- 
bership increased slightly and reached twenty-six by 1950. The 
1950 r s witnessed further decline, however, and the mem- 
bership by 1960 was nineteen. The most recent statistics in 1970 
show a membership of sixteen. 9 Deaths and migration to 
other localities to find employment have taken a heavy toll, 
and the potential is no longer present for building a 

The Flat Rock congregation served its community for 
more than one hundred fifty years, and many generations of 
Brethren worshiped as members of the church in this area. 
One of the ways in which this congregation and its leaders 
served was by the establishment of other congregations in a 
number of locations in Ashe and Alleghany counties. It is to 
these children that this story of the Brethren in the Carolinas 
now turns. 

8. Ibid., August 13, 1927, page 525; June 15, 1935,page30. 

9. Yearbooks, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1971. 



The neighboring Peak Creek congregation had roots going 
back into the early nineteenth century, which made it almost 
as old as the Flat Rock congregation. The Brethren in this 
area had developed steadily during the second half of the 
nineteenth century under the leadership of Adam and Andrew 
Sheets, M. G. Owens, and John C. Woodie. By 1902 at the first 
District Meeting of the new North Carolina district, the Peak 
Creek congregation reported a membership of forty-five with 
one elder, two ministers, and three deacons. 10 

That Peak Creek was prospering was demonstrated in a 
report that the "church had been built up spiritually" by two 
weeks of meetings in February, 1902 under the leadership of 
John C. Woodie, A. J. Reed, and W. A. Reed, which had 
resulted in seven baptisms. At a council meeting several 
months later in May, a Sunday morning Sunday School using 
Brethren literature was organized with H. J. Woodie the 
superintendent and J. P. Osborne the assistant. Worship 
services with preaching were conducted on a once a month 
basis (which was true of every congregation in the district) on 
the first Sunday of each month. H. J. Woodie proved to be a 
capable and dedicated leader and was ordained as a minister 
in 1902. However, not too long afterward, in 1906 he transferred 
his membership to the Fraternity congregation near Winston- 
Salem. Occasionally, as in 1914 and in 1916 Woodie returned for 
visits in his home community and conducted meetings. Since 
there was no church, the meetings were conducted in M. G. 
Owens' home. In 1916 Woodie and Owens also preached at the 
Blue Ridge congregation, and it was reported that many 
people were thinking seriously about their relation to the 
church. Four years later in 1920, Clayton B. Miller preached 
for three weeks at Peak Creek, two were reclaimed and three 

10. District Meeting Minutes, 1902. 


were baptized as the result of the meetings. 11 

However, during the early 1920's, the Peak Creek 
congregation evidently underwent the crisis of loss of local 
leadership, for by 1925 it was reported that the congregation 
had been reduced "almost to nothing" because of the lack of 
leadership for the past ten years. Fortunately, however, early 
in 1924, George A. Branscom of Melvin Hill began visiting 
Peak Creek on a regular once a month basis and the 
congregation revived. Then about the beginning of 
1925 D. M. Glick began to work with the members at Peak 
Creek by teaching music, directing the Sunday School, and 
leading the worship services. Under all of this stimulation, the 
Sunday School enrollment increased from forty to one hundred 
four, and the congregation began to build its first church. The 
members and their friends in the community donated trees 
which were cut and hauled to the sawmill where the lumber 
was prepared with which to build a church. Most of the work 
on the building was donated, and by the end of 1925 the church 
was completed. 12 

Another family which contributed significantly to the life 
and program at Peak Creek during these years of the second 
half of the 1920's was the F. C. Rohrer's, who arrived in North 
Carolina in the summer of 1925 in response to an "S. 0. S. call" 
from D. M. Glick. The Rohrer's moved into a small house 
owned by a Sheets' family in the Peak Creek community, and 
he taught in the Peak Creek School. The first big job was the 
completion of the church started by Branscom and Glick. 
Then in the early spring of 1926 the Rohrers directed a Daily 
Vacation Bible School with sixty-five children enrolled in five 
classes, which was certainly one of the earliest such programs 
in the district. The Rohrers reported that this idea was "new 
here but the people were willing to try it." During the summer 
of 1926 a BYPD was organized at Peak Creek; the mid-week 

11. Gospel Messenger, March 1,1902, page 148; May 17, 1902, page 316; April 18,1914, 
page 253; March 4, 1916, page 157; District Meeting Minutes, 1903; letter from Clayton B. 

12. Ibid., September 5, 1925, page 573; November 5, 1927, page 715. 


social gathering which met uner a huge chestnut tree on the 
top of the mountain overlooking the community was well at- 
tended by the young people. 

Before the Rohrers moved on to the Mt. Carmel 
congregation in 1927, many interesting things had happened at 
Peak Creek. For one thing, the District Meeting of 1927 was 
hosted by the Peak Creek Brethren with a large number of 
Brethren from across the district present. In addition, C. D. 
Bonsack from the Elgin offices of the church, and W. M. Kahle 
and D. H. Zigler from Virginia were present as guest 
speakers. For another thing, in the spring of 1927 Rohrer had 
loaned a quarter apiece to a number of children in the com- 
munity to be used to buy eggs to set and raise chickens ; the 
older boys and girls were challenged to give one day's wage 
instead. Altogether forty-one children and forty older youth 
from six congregations participated. When the project ended 
at the District Meeting, about one hundred twenty-five dollars 
had been raised, one-half of which was to go to the General 
Mission Board and the other half to the District Mission Board. 13 

The encouraging work done at Peak Creek by such leaders 
as George A. Branscom, D. M. Glick, and F. C. Rohrer in the 
1920's was continued by other ministers in the 1930's. About 
1930 Fred Dancy became the pastor at Peak Creek and con- 
tinued for several years in that position; in addition to doing 
"fine work" at Peak Creek he was also helping to organize a 
congregation at Marion, Virginia, just across the state line, 
and was conducting a Sunday School in the Harmon School 
during the summer for those Brethren who lived in that area. 
Also, the work that Fred Dancy was doing was supplemented 
by visiting ministers. For example, J. R. Jackson, who was 
currently living in Tennessee, was frequently in the com- 
munity. In July of 1930 he preached seventeen sermons which 
led to ten baptisms. While he was in the community he re- 
activated the young people's organization which met each 
Sunday evening with John Osborne, president. In June of 1931 

13. I bid., October 1,1 927, page 636; November 5, 1927,page 715. 


he held meetings at Harmon where six were baptized and two 
were reclaimed. In September of 1935 he again held meetings 
at Peak Creek. The story is told that during one of these 
revivals when the church was crowded to capacity, the 
preacher noticed one young man who seemed to be sitting too 
close to his girl. In an aside, Jackson remarked: "For God's 
sake young man please sit up you are pushing that young lady 
through the wall." Hardly pausing, he continued his sermon. 14 

Another minister who rendered significant service in the 
1930's was Gilbert Osborne of North Wilkesboro, who was 
preaching at Peak Creek at least as early as 1930. He even- 
tually succeeded Fred Dancy as the regular pastor of the 
congregation. In the summer of 1931 E. C. Woodie of the 
Fraternity congregation at Winston-Salem held a series of 
meetings which resulted in three baptisms ; he had grown up 
at Peak Creek but had moved out of the community some 
twenty-five years earlier. N. C. Reed was another evangelist 
who held a number of meetings in the Peak Creek area in 1932, 
in 1934, in 1937, in 1938 at Harmon, in 1938 at the Transom 
Methodist Church, three miles from Peak Creek, and in 1941. 
The one in 1941 was considered "one of the best revivals" the 
congregation had ever had. 15 It ought to be pointed out that 
this list of evangelists is illustrative and not necessarily all- 

For several summers beginning in 1934 Weldon I. Flory 
served as a summer pastor at Peak Ceek. One of the long- 
remembered events of this period was an all-day Children's 
Day program involving a picnic lunch, and talks and special 
music in the afternoon. This program was eventually trans- 
formed into an annual homecoming service on the first 
Sunday in July. Another of the forerunners of the homecoming 
service was an all-day preaching service in September, 1934, 

14. Ibid., August 9, 1930, page 509; November 1, 1930, page 701; July 25, 1931, page 25; 
November 9, 1935, page 29. 

15. Ibid., August 9, 1930, page 509; July 25, 1931, page 25; November 5, 1932, page 25; 
October 20, 1934, pages 28-29; February 5, 1938, page 26; April 30, 1938, page 28; August 13, 
1938, page 29; June 14, 1941, page 30. 


during which the summer pastor and also Kermit Farrington, 
another young minister, spoke. 16 

During the decade of the 1940's the Peak Creek 
congregation continued to prosper and grow under the 
leadership of Gilbert Osborne down to 1944. Kermit Farrington 
served as pastor for one year, followed by David Cleary, who 
was pastor from 1945 to 1950. The membership reached an all- 
time peak in 1950 of one hundred fifty, compared with forty- 
five in 1902, eighty-four in 1930, and one hundred thirty-three in 
1940. After 1950 the membership of the congregation began a 
steady decline reaching one hundred twelve in 1960. One of the 
most obvious factors in this decline was the loss of the long- 
term leadership of such men as Osborne and Cleary. Six 
different individuals served as pastor at Peak Creek during 
the nine years from 1950 to 1959: Bristoe Osborne, 1950-1951; 
Paul Hopkins, 1951-1952; Coy Anders, 1952-1954; Mrs. Mary 
Girtman, 1954-1955; Kermit Farrington, 1955-1957; and Ivan 
Gascho, 1957-1958. 

In 1960, Rex Sheets began an attempt to consolidate and 
stabilize the remaining membership in the congregation. One 
of the steps taken was the closing of the Harmon church which 
had been listed in the Yearbook as a part of the congregation 
for more than a quarter of a century. Then in 1962 a careful 
evaluation of the membership roll resulted in a net loss of 
forty-seven members, which brought the membership of the 
congregation down to fifty-five. During the 1960's the mem- 
bership held steady and stood at fifty-one in 1970. One of the 
encouraging developments was the interest taken by the 
members in remodeling the church in order to make it more 
attractive and more usable. In November, 1969 and in April, 
1970 the congregation purchased new pulpit furniture and new 
pews. In October, 1970 the church was moved farther back 
from the highway, a complete basement was excavated, and 

16. Ibid., October 20, 1934,pages 28-29; August 3, 1935,page 29; Clara S. Bowlin, "Local 
Church Historical Data," April 4, 1968. 


the building was covered with a brick veneer. 17 

In spite of such encouraging developments the Peak Creek 
congregation was clearly having difficulty surviving. One of 
the very important factors in its decline was the changing 
economic and technological picture in the United States in the 
quarter century following the end of World War II in 1945. 
These factors which have caused millions of rural people to 
move to the cities of America in order to find employment 
have made life difficult-almost impossible-for many small 
rural Brethren congregations like Peak Creek. 


The third of the Ashe County Brethren congregations, 
which has had a history similar in many ways to that of Peak 
Creek and Flat Rock has been known since 1904 as Pleasant 
Valley. In the statistical summary of the district compiled in 
1902, Pleasant Ridge, as it was then known, had forty members 
and four deacons. Since it had no elders or ministers, it was 
entirely dependent on neighboring congregations for its 
leadership. Two illustrations of the seriousness of this problem 
may be cited: In November, 1904 it was reported that a local 
layman, J. McClane, presided at a congregational council 
meeting since there was no elder present. Nearly twenty years 
later, in 1922 the congregation held a council meeting to hear 
the report of the annual visit in preparation for a Love Feast, 
but the elder did not come and so they could not have the Love 
Feast. "Disappointed" was the term used to describe their 
feelings. 18 

On the other hand there were of course many occasions 
when the visiting ministers did show up. As illustrations, 
Clayton B. Miller was present earlier in 1922 to organize a 

17. Yearbooks, 1930-1971; letter from Clara S. Bowlin. 

18. District Meeting Minutes, 1902; Gospel Messenger, December 3, 1904, page 781; 
October 28, 1922, page 685. 


Sunday School, to conduct a Bible school and evangelistic 
meetings, and to officiate at a Love Feast. In 1925 W. H. Handy 
preached nineteen sermons and one funeral, before illness 
forced him to return home. It was reported that the Baptists 
and the Methodists in the community also liked his revival. 
And in 1928, J. R. Jackson preached a series of twelve sermons 
which resulted in five baptisms. 19 

Most of the North Carolina ministers of the early twentieth 
century took a turn preaching at Pleasant Valley, including 
especially members of the Woodie, Reed, and Sheets families. 
George A. Branscom was related to the congregation as pastor 
or elder on different occasions. Clayton B. Miller also served 
as pastor and-or elder for some twenty years stretching 
from the 1930's to the 1950's. Spencer Wingler 
was pastor for two years in the 1930's. Archie Wyatt and 
David Cleary have alternated as pastor of the congregation 
over a thirty year span beginning in the 1930's. Also, Kermit 
Farrington has served as moderator for a number of years 
beginning about 1951. 

For many years the membership of the Pleasant Valley 
congregation held fairly steady in the thirties. From a low of 
thirty in 1925, the number increased to thirty-eight by 1929. 
After dipping slightly in the 1930's, it was back to thirty-eight 
in 1940. The decade of the 1940's with the dislocations of World 
War II witnessed a decline to thirty by 1950. Contrary to the 
general trend, the number of members increased in the 1950's 
and reached a high of thirty-nine in 1960. One factor which 
contributed to this growth was the relocation of the church 
from a very inaccessible place to a more convenient location. 
However, in 1961 a net loss of seventeen reduced the mem- 
bership to twenty-two; a number of these seventeen were 
transferring their membership to the new Statesville 
fellowship. From this low a slow decline set in, and in 1970 the 
congregation reported only nineteen members. 20 Here was a 

19. Gospel Messenger, May 6, 1922, page 285; December 12, 1925, page 797; August 11, 
1928, page 513. 

20. Yearbooks, 1925-1971; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


third congregation which seemed to be having great difficulty 
surviving during the second half of the twentieth century. 


The fourth of the many congregations which the Brethren 
established in the Ashe-Alleghany county area was Mt. Car- 
mel, located sixteen miles east of West Jefferson. Henry 
Sheets had been instrumental in getting this group of Brethren 
organized about 1890, but it was the members of the Reed 
family that contributed most significantly to maintaining the 
program there over the years. As an illustration, a report in 
1905 indicated that A. J. Reed as the presiding elder was in 
charge of the congregational council meeting, and he was 
"assisted by three of his sons." These three sons conducted 
evangelistic meetings and worship services at Mt. Carmel on 
many occasions in the ensuing years. For example, in 1915 N. 
C. and J. A. Reed held meetings for a week following the fall 
Love Feast, at which N. C. Reed had officiated. In 1932 Mt. 
Carmel had a two weeks revival led by W. A. Reed of 
Schoolfield, Virginia and N. C. Reed of Mt. Airy, North 
Carolina, which resulted in sixteen baptisms. In 1934 N. C. 
Reed was present for two weeks, and the following year W. A. 
Reed conducted another revival meeting. 21 

Another individual who served the Mt. Carmel 
congregation sacrificially for more than a quarter of a century 
beginning about 1925 was W. H. Handy, who was the presiding 
elder during most of the years down to 1951 and who also did 
some of the preaching during these years. In 1925, for example, 
the monthly appointment was changed from the second to the 
fourth Sunday in order to make it possible for Handy to preach 
at Mt. Carmel. Then in the summer of 1927 F. C. Rohrer 
transferred his work from Peak Creek to Mt. Carmel in order 

21. Gospel Messenger, May 27, 1905, page 336; October 2, 1915, page 637; October 29, 
1932, page 24; November 24, 1934, page 28; January ll,1936,page 30. 


to try to build up this congregation. According to his report, the 
doors of the church had been locked for six months. During 
that summer a Daily Vacation Bible School was held in the 
community for two weeks, and this program was followed by 
the organization of a Sunday School. To provide more 
adequate facilities one hundred twenty-five dollars was 
contributed to re-roof and to paint the church. 22 

Rohrer continued to serve as pastor of the Mt. Carmel 
congregation until 1933, when he moved to North Manchester, 
Indiana. During the summer of 1933 Robert L. Sherfy, a 
Bridgewater College student, served in the community as a 
summer pastor. Then in the fall a young native of the area, 
Fred Dancy, became the pastor. Like W. H. Handy, Dancy 
served the congregation for most of the next quarter of a 
century either as pastor or as elder. Under Dancy's leader- 
ship, the members at Mt. Carmel took an interest in their old 
church which had been built around 1890. In 1938 they wired 
the church for electricity and beautified the church grounds by 
planting flowers and shrubs. In 1942 the congregation en- 
tertained the District Conference, during which Dancy was the 
reader and Dan West of the general brotherhood staff was 
present to speak on peace and international problems. 23 

In the fall of 1943 the Eli Gascho family from Wabash, 
Indiana moved into the Mt. Carmel congregation and accepted 
various leadership responsibilities. He was elected the pastor 
of the congregation and she helped with the music. At about 
the same time a widowed sister-in-law, Mrs. Mary Gascho and 
her two sons, Nelson and Ivan, also moved to the Mt. Carmel 
area from their home in Michigan. The Gaschos brought with 
them a Mennonite background which strengthened the pacifist 
emphasis in the congregation. This emphasis was noted in the 
interest of the congregation in the men in the Civilian Public 
Service camps. The ladies canned considerable quantities of 

22. Ibid., October 31,1925,page 701; November 5, 1927, page 715. 

23. Yearbooks, 1933 I960; Gospel Messenger, May 28, 1938, page 27; October 3, 1942, 
pages 28-29. 


fruit and vegetables for the camps. Also, the Brethren 
collected used clothing to be used either in the camps or in 
overseas relief. The relief program also included the sewing of 
new garments from material sent from the service center at 
New Windsor, Maryland; by the spring of 1946 the ladies had 
completed work on twenty-four new skirts. When the camp at 
Magnolia, Arkansas was severely damaged by a tornado, the 
Mt. Carmel Brethren sent an offering of thirty-two dollars and 
fifty cents. Another illustration of this witness was Ivan 
Gascho's trip to Greece as a sea-going cowboy with a load of 
horses in 1945. "By and large, these were busy and worthwhile 
years for a congregation with less than one hundred members. 

The Mt. Carmel congregation also had the energy and 
finances to engage in two major building programs during the 
1940's. In the fall of 1944 the house in which the Eli Gaschos 
were living was struck by lightning and completely destroyed. 
Working in conjunction with the New Haven congregation, the 
Brethren at Mt. Carmel built a modern six-room parsonage 
following blueprints supplied by the church's building coun- 
selor, C. H. Deardorff. Then about the end of 1945 the Gaschos 
moved to Florida, and the Fred Dancys moved into the new 
parsonage as pastor of the congregation. Under his leadership 
the Brethren at Mt. Carmel built a new concrete block church 
in 1949-1950. It had a full basement with three Sunday School 
classrooms, a kitchen, and a furnace room. In addition to the 
sanctuary, there were three classrooms on the main floor. 25 

From time to time the Mt. Carmel Brethren were blessed 
by the visits of different Brethren leaders. In the spring of 1944, 
James Renz, the pastor of the Wabash, Indiana Church of the 
Brethren, conducted a two week revival which resulted in a 
number of accessions to the congregation. Later in that year, 
A. Stauffer Curry, the Southeastern Region executive 

24. Gospel Messenger, January 1, 1944, pages 28-29; June 24, 1944, page 16; December 
23,1944,page 16; March 16, 1946, page 30. See also, biographical sketch of Ivan D. Gascho. 

25. Ibid., December 16, 1944,page 26; March 16, 1946, page 30; December 17, 1949, page 
27. See also, Mrs. Pauline Jones, "Historical Data," no date. 


secretary, stopped for a visit on his way to a district con- 
ference in Florida. Also, E. L. Ikenberry, a missionary to 
China, described his war-time experiences in that country. 
During September of 1946 Coy Anders of Haynes, North 
Carolina conducted a week of revival meetings at Mt. Carmel. 
Two years later in August, 1948 F. C. Rohrer, who was now 
living in Kentucky, returned for a revival meeting in the 
congregation which he had served as pastor some twenty 
years earlier. Interestingly enough, his son, Glenn Rohrer, 
spent the summer of 1953 as a summer pastor at Mt. Carmel, 
while he was a student at Bethany Seminary. Walter 
Longenecker also served as a summer pastor in the early 
1950's. In addition, several BVS'ers, including Arwilda Giesel, 
Beverly Barr, and Harold Kenepp provided short-term 
pastoral leadership for the congregation. u 

In addition to all of the valuable assistance which has been 
received from various outside Brethren leaders, many North 
Carolina Brethren have attempted to provide the month to 
month leadership necessary to sustain a small rural 
congregation. During the 1950's D. B. Osborne, Mrs. Mary 
Girtman, and K. Dean Huntley all served for a year or two as 
Mt. Carmel's pastor. The longest pastorate of the decade was 
the three years from 1955 to 1958 during which Ivan Gascho, 
the son of Mrs. Mary Girtman and the nephew of Eli J. Gascho, 
was the pastor. He and his wife had been baptized at New 
Haven in 1953, and in 1955 he had been licensed to the ministry 
by Phil Zinn, Fred Dancy, and Holt E. Griffith. He did an ex- 
cellent job as the pastor at Mt. Carmel, and after indicating a 
desire for continued service, he was ordained in 1956. In 1958 he 
left North Carolina to continue his education at Bethany 
Training School. Further leadership was provided in the 1960's 
by Mrs. Mary Girtman, Clarence Mabe, S. La Verne Hinson, 

26. Ibid., June 24, 1944, page 16; December 16, 1944, page 26; November 30, 1946, page 
26; September 18, 1948, page 29; October 17, 1953, page 32; material from Bert G. 
Richardson. See also, Pauline Jones, "Historical Data," no date. 


and Robert L. Hill. In 1970 Hill was serving as the pastor. 27 

The membership of the Mt. Carmel congregation has 
reflected to some extent at least the type of leadership it has 
been able to secure. Beginning the century with a membership 
of fifty in 1902, the number increased to fifty-six in 1925, to 
sixty-eight in 1930, and to ninety-two in 1940. In spite of the very 
active program of the 1940's the membership dropped slightly 
to eighty-six in 1950. Mrs. E. J. Gascho described the problem 
admirably when she wrote in 1944: "We feel the loss of many 
of our members who have moved to the industrial centers." 
The 1950' s witnessed a more rapid decline and by 1960 the 
membership was down to fifty-nine. It leveled off somewhat in 
the 1960's and stood at fifty-two in 1970. 28 The future for this 
congregation like so many of the North Carolina 
congregations will depend largely on the leadership available 
and on the economic factors of the community in which it is 


The Long Hope congregation which had been organized in 
1890 had developed rather rapidly in the decade of the 1890's 
reaching a membership of thirty-five. By 1902 this mem- 
bership had declined somewhat to twenty-five although the 
congregation had two elders, two ministers, and two deacons 
at that time, which certainly should have provided an 
adequate corps of leaders. In the "regular monthly preaching 
appointments of each church of the district" published with 
the District Meeting Minutes of 1903, the Long Hope service 
was scheduled for the third Sunday, which was the only 
preaching appointment in the Ashe-Alleghany county area on 

27. Yearbooks, 1950-1971 ; also, biographical sketch of Ivan D. Gascho ; material from 
Bert G. Richardson. 

28. District Meeting Minutes, 1902; Yearbooks, 1925-1971; Gospel Messenger, 
December 16, 1944, page 26. 


that Sunday. In spite of all of the encouraging beginnings, the 
area in which the Long Hope church was located did not prove 
to be a permanently desirable area for the Brethren, and in 
1906 ''the members of said church having scattered and moved 
away," the District Meeting granted permission to the Flat 
Rock congregation to sell the Long Hope church. This action 
was completed and the 1908 Conference heard a report that the 
church had been sold for twenty-five dollars. 29 Thus, in the 
process of establishing Brethren congregations and building 
churches, which was pretty much of a topsy-turvy process, 
there were always losses as well as gains. 


The history of the Blue Ridge congregation in Wilkes 
County is very difficult to trace because of the off-again, on- 
again nature of the congregation. The evidence seems to in- 
dicate that there have been three different Blue Ridge 
congregations at different periods of time. The earliest of 
these dates from 1897, when the Peak Creek congregation 
granted letters to ten of its members to place their mem- 
berships in the Blue Ridge congregation. Seven of the ten were 
members of the Sheets family, which provides an insight into 
the leadership of the congregation. Another important family 
has been the Winglers, which was also represented in the ten 
charter members. This Blue Ridge congregation was included 
in the roll of congregations read at the last District Meeting in 
1901 of the combined district of Tennessee, North Carolina, and 
Florida, but was not included in the roll of congregations of the 


first District Meeting in 1902 of the district of North Carolina. 

The first year in which the Blue Ridge congregation was 

included in the roll of congregations at the North Carolina 

29. District Meeting Minutes, 1902, 1903, 1906, 1908. 

30. Bert G. Richardson, compiler, "Peak Creek Church Register," District Meeting 
Minutes, 1901, 1902. 


District Meeting was 1911, when it was represented by Thomas 
Sheets as a delegate. The only minister whose name is 
associated with the congregation during these years was 
Martin Owens who was elder down to about 1922. The name of 
the congregation was dropped from the District Meeting roll 
and from the Yearbook of the denomination about 1925. 31 Thus 
ended the second stage in the history of Blue Ridge. 

The third stage began in August of 1931 when a new Blue 
Ridge congregation was organized by George A. Branscom 
with seventeen charter members. Clayton B. Miller was 
elected pastor and elder, and Green Wingler was licensed to 
the ministry. Bronard Wayne and Asbury Lyalls were or- 
dained as deacons, and Bronard Wayne was a delegate to the 
district Meeting of 1931. On October 8, the Blue Ridge Brethren 
celebrated their first Love Feast with Miller officiating and a 
good attendance. In the spring of 1933 N. C. Reed held a revival 
at Blue Ridge which resulted in five people being baptized and 
two being reclaimed. 32 

The leadership of the Blue Ridge congregation since 1931 
has been almost entirely in the hands of two dedicated men, 
Clayton B. Miller and Kermit Farrington. Miller served as 
pastor and elder for the first two years and then as elder down 
to 1953. After a one year pastorate by Spencer Wingler, Kermit 
Farrington became pastor in 1934 and continued to be related 
to the congregation either as pastor or as elder for nearly a 
third of a century until 1966, truly a remarkable record. Others 
who have had leadership responsibilities have included Rex 
Sheets, David Geary, Bert G. Richardson, Claude Hall, Gilbert 
Shelton, and J. R. Jackson. 33 Hall came to the Church of the 
Brethren from the Presbyterian Church and became an 
outstanding laymen. 

In terms of its meeting place, the Blue Ridge congregation 
has been called "a church on the move." It evidently held its 

31. District Meeting Minutes, 1911 1925; Yearbooks, 1920, 1925. 

32. Gospel Messenger, June 10, 1933, page 28; District Meeting Minutes, 1931. 

33. Yearbooks, 1932-1971. 


services for some years in what had been the Vannoy school 
house pretty far up on the side of a mountain in a very difficult 
location. Then, the congregation met for awhile in the Millers 
Presbyterian Church about a mile and a half farther down the 
mountain road. In the early 1960's, leaders of the congregation 
met with district officials at the Friendship church to discuss 
relocation ; a decision was made and implemented to purchase 
land in McGrady, across the road from the Kermit Farrington 
residence. However, the congregation has been unable to raise 
the funds with which to build a church. 

Although the membership of the Blue Ridge congregation 
has shown a tendency to go up and down, it has generally risen 
in contrast to the prevailing Brethren pattern in the mountains 
of northwestern North Carolina. From a beginning of 
seventeen members in 1931, the membership had almost 
doubled to thirty-three by 1940. It dropped slightly during the 
1940's to twenty-eight, and then took a real nosedive reaching a 
low of fourteen in 1955. However, instead of the membership's 
staying down there as might be expected the congregation 
refused to roll over and die, and by 1960 the membership was 
up to twenty-five. The 1960 's have witnessed continued growth, 
and in 1970 the membership reached an all-time high of thirty- 
eight. 34 Thus, on the basis of these statistics the future seemed 
somewhat more hopeful for the Blue Ridge congregation than 
for some of its smaller neighbors; however, a congregation 
with less than fifty members was still in a rather precarious 


Very little indeed is known about the White Rock 
congregation which lived for only a few years in the first 
decade of the twentieth century. The District Meeting of the 
Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida district in 1901 ac- 

34. Ibid., material from Bert G. Richardson. 


cepted the White Rock congregation in North Carolina as "a 
newly organized church." The same District Meeting also 
dispatched a special committee composed of elders, Joseph 
Bowman, George A. Branscom, and Henry Sheets, 'to 
Whiterock and other churches in Ashe and Alleghany Counties, 
N. C." Whether this committee was simply to aid these 
congregations in getting established, or as more likely, to 
attempt to work out difficulties that had arisen was not made 
clear in the Minutes. At any rate, in the statistical summary of 
the new district of North Carolina, the White Rock 
congregation in 1902 had thirty-five members with one elder, 
one minister, and two deacons, which would seem to be a fairly 
substantial congregation for that day and age. In the schedule 
of preaching appointments in 1903 White Rock was assigned 
the second weekend of each month to have preaching on both 
Saturday and Sunday. In 1908 the White Rock congregation 
was assigned to the District Mission Board for one year "as a 
mission point," indicating that the congregation was probably 
having great difficulty providing for its leadership 
requirements. There is no available record of what happened 
in the ensuing years, but by 1911 the White Rock congregation 
had been dropped from the District Meeting roll of 
congregations and and had evidently ceased to exist. 35 


Another casualty in the give and take of Brethren 
congregations in the Carolinas was the New Bethel 
congregation in Alleghany County, which was organized in 
time to be represented at the District Meeting of 1903. The 
individual who did far more than anyone else to enable this 
congregation to survive for some forty years was W. H. 
Handy. In the earliest report of this congregation, W. H. Handy 
and W. A. Reed had held twenty-two meetings in the area in 

35. District Meeting Minutes, 1901-1911. 


which this congregation was located by October, 1903. As a 
result of their efforts five had been baptized. In the final report 
of this congregation in the Yearbook, W. H. Handy was still 
serving as the elder. Others who provided leadership included 
John A. Reed, and F. C. Rohrer. The records indicate that the 
New Bethel congregation never had more than a handful of 
members. The earliest available statistics in 1925 indicate a 
membership of twenty-five, which was the peak. By 1930 the 
membership had declined to eighteen, and the last recorded 
membership figure in 1940 was nineteen. Some of the 
remaining Brethren transferred their membership to the New 
Haven congregation, and this congregation was dropped from 
the District Meeting roll in 1942 without any formal action- 
neither a whimper nor a bang. 36 


One of the most active congregations in the Ashe- 
Alleghany county area has been the Little Pine congregation 
located ten miles east of Sparta in Alleghany County. The 
work began in this area in 1905 when W. A. Reed conducted a 
revival in the Little Pine school house. As the result of the 
impact of that revival a Brethren congregation was organized 
in the area during the following year with Reed as the pastor 
and elder. Two of the charter members were Jim Vaughn and 
Elizabeth Greene. A church was needed, but there was little 
money available in the community. Carter Wilson, who was 
not Brethren, donated the land on which a church should be 
built. The lumber was donated by the people of the community 
as was the labor. Some of the ladies sold butter in order to get 
money to buy nails. By the end of the year 1906 the 
congregation had a church, which lasted for thirty-five years 
or so. 37 

36. Gospel Messenger, October 3, 1903, page 636; District Meeting Minutes, 1903, 1942; 
Yearbooks, 1920-1944. 

37. Mrs. Harvie Greene, "Local Church Historical Data," no date. 


In addition to W. A. Reed, another North Carolina elder 
who gave generously of his time to the Little Pine 
congregation over a period of many years was W. H. Handy. 
At least as early as 1912 he preached twenty revival sermons 
in the church which led to twenty-three conversions. In ad- 
dition to preaching in the church perhaps hundreds of times, 
he also served as presiding elder for a number of years, finally 
retiring about 1951. Many other North Carolina ministers and 
leaders have been connected with the program at Little Pine 
during its first sixty years including E. T. Lowe, Alex. Frost, 
George W. Tucker, N. C. Reed, John A. Reed, Fred Dancy, 
Clayton B. Miller, David Cleary, Connie Cleary, Otte Utt, Bert 
G. Richardson, Kermit Farrington, Leo Tompkins, and Coy 
Anders. Anders in particular deserves special mention; he 
accepted the pastoral responsibility in 1945 and has continued 
in that position through the decades of the 1950's and the 1960's. 38 

The Little Pine Brethren have generally been quite 
evangelistic over the years, for there have been many revivals 
in the community. In 1916 W. H. Handy and N. C. Reed com- 
bined in a meeting that lasted sixteen days and nights and 
ended with twelve people being baptized and two being 
reclaimed for the church. Six years later the two ministers 
again joined in holding a revival which led to nine baptisms. 
Again in 1927 Handy and Reed held a revival involving sixteen 
sermons and three baptisms. George Tucker and E. T. Lowe 
held meetings in 1930 which were well attended; as a result six 
were baptized and three were reclaimed. In a period of two 
weeks in 1938 Holt E. Griffith preached twenty-five sermons 
which led to two baptisms. The minister who had gotten the 
congregation established in 1906, W. A. Reed, was back in 
August of 1940 for ten days of meetings, as a result of which 
several people were anointed, nine were baptized, two were 
reclaimed, and two were licensed to preach. W. H. Handy 
worked with Coy Anders in 1945 during a two week revival 
which led to twenty-one conversions. Again in 1948 these two 

38. Gospel Messenger, November 9, 1912,page 720; Yearbooks, 19201971. 


ministers cooperated in a revival which was followed by the 
baptism of five people. 39 Certainly, the Brethren in this area of 
North Carolina had established a fine record for their interest 
in evangelism. 

In addition to evangelism in the community in which the 
church was located, the Brethren were also interested in 
witnessing in neighboring communities, one of which was 
called Coal Creek. It seems that some years earlier, perhaps 
before the end of the nineteenth century, elders Harden Hylton 
and Jerry Slusher from Virginia had preached in this area and 
had been long remembered. At any rate, on January 25, 1914 N. 
C. Reed and E. T. Lowe from Little Pine began eight days and 
nights of preaching in the Coal Creek community by the 
request of the local residents. As a result of their preaching on 
the Brethren doctrines, four people were baptized, and interest 
in building a church and in establishing a congregation was 
aroused. Although there continued to be cordial relations 
between the Brethren at Little Pine and at Coal Creek, the 
record does not indicate either that a church was built or that a 
congregation was organized at Coal Creek. What is indicated 
was the existence of a widespread Brethren witness on this 
Southern frontier. Still another evidence of this witness was 
demonstrated in October of 1914 when W. H. Handy, J. A. 
Richardson, and C. C. Tompkins traveled thirteen miles from 
Little Pine to Glen wood where Handy preached. 40 

The evangelistic program of the Little Pine Brethren was 
reflected in the growth of the congregation's membership. The 
earliest available figures on membership date from 1916, ten 
years after the organization, when there were fifty-two 
members. By 1925 the number had increased to sixty, and then 
after jumping up to seventy-five in 1927, fell back to forty-two 
in 1930. The membership doubled in three years to ninety in 

39. 1 bid., September 16, 1916, page 605; October 7, 1922, page 637; January 21,1928, page 
45; December 27, 1930, page 837; November 5, 1938, page 30; September 21, 1940, page 29; 
December 15, 1945, page 29; September 4, 1948, page 32. 

40. Ibid., January 31, 1914, page 76; March 7, 1914, page 157; July 25, 1914, page 477; 
October 24, 1914,page 684; August 28, 1915, page 556; January 28, 1921, page 61. 


1933 and ended the decade in 1940 at one hundred four. Con- 
tinuing to increase in the 1940's, the membership reached a 
high of one hundred twenty-two in 1948. In the next two years 
the figure tumbled dizzily to eighty in 1949 perhaps as the 
result of a re-evaluation of the membership roll, and then 
jumped back to ninety-eight at the end of the decade in 1950. 
The number held steady in the 1950's and ended the decade at 
one hundred one. The erratic tendency of the 1940's came out 
again in the 1960's, when the membership dropped to a low of 
eighty-five in 1965, jumped to one hundred twelve in 1966, fell 
back to eighty-five in 1968, and reached an all-time high of one 
hundred thirty-two in 1970. 41 At any rate the Little Pine 
congregation has demonstrated an ability to snap back from 
declining membership, and it is to be hoped that this 
evangelistic ability will continue. 

In order to provide adequate facilities for all of these 
members, the Little Pine Brethren became involved in a 
variety of maintenance and building programs. The frame 
church built in 1906 lasted for many years with periodic 
repairs. In 1923 it was reported to the congregational council 
meeting that the work of repairing the church had been 
completed. Four years later an offering of twenty-seven 
dollars and thirty cents was taken to purchase paint to be used 
on the church. Ten years later in 1937 with the District Meeting 
coming to Little Pine, the Brethren raised one hundred 
seventy -three dollars, including three fifty dollar gifts, to be 
used to repair and to paint the church. Then in 1941-1942 the 
congregation decided that it had outgrown its church and 
therefore it built a new brick church with two Sunday School 
classrooms. The new church was dedicated in the fall of 1942 
by W. A. Reed, who very likely had dedicated the first church 
thirty-six years earlier. These new facilities soon proved to be 
inadequate to provide for the growth in membership which 
took place in the 1940's, and in 1948-1949 a basement was dug to 
provide more classrooms and a new heating system. Other 

41. Ibid., October 21, 1916, page 685; Yearbooks, 1925-1971. 


improvements at this time included new pulpit furniture, the 
rewiring of the church and installation of an improved lighting 
system, and the landscaping of the church grounds. Ten years 
later in 1959 another building program was necessary to 
provide additional classrooms and an enlarged sanctuary. 42 
Certainly, these Brethren in the Little Pine community had 
done remarkably well in providing the physical facilities 
needed to maintain an active church program. 

The program at Little Pine was an active one, which in- 
cluded the once a month preaching service allotted to all of the 
congregations in the district, the many revival services, some 
of which have already been described, the annual Love Feast, 
which was generally well attended, and the regular sessions of 
the congregational council at which the elder presided. In 
addition, in 1926 the congregation had one of the earliest Daily 
Vacation Bible Schools in the district under the leadership of 
Annie Vest and Effie Pratt, both from Virginia. Another 
program that was also held that summer and periodically 
thereafter was a Decoration Day service, which was well 
attended and included messages by W. H. Handy and N. C. 
Reed. When the Sunday School was first organized is not 
recorded, but across the years it became an active one. 
Especially toward the end of the decade of the 1940's the 
program was doing well, for the year 1949 set an all-time 
record for Sunday School attendance. Another event which 
had become a part of the church program by the 1940's was the 
annual homecoming, which involved as speakers in 1947, for 
example, Otte Utt, Coy Anders, and W. H. Handy. 43 Altogether, 
many meaningful things have happened to the Brethren in the 
Little Pine congregation during the first sixty years of their 
life together. 

42. Ibid., February 17,1923,page 112; October l,1927,page 636; August 7, 1937, page 29; 
October 24, 1942, page 27; January 1,1948, page 30; September 4, 1948, page 32; January 29, 
1949, page 30; April 23, 1949, page 28; December 17, 1949, page 27; December 3, 1960, page 
31; also, Mrs. Harvie Greene, "Local Church Historical Data," no date. 

43. Ibid., July 10, 1926, page 445; September 4, 1926, page 573; April 1, 1950, page 29; 
October 11, 1947, page 30. 



Another of the numerous areas in which the Brethren 
ministers based in Ashe and Alleghany counties preached was 
across the state line in Grayson County, Virginia. In 1904 W. A. 
Reed held a series of meetings involving seventeen sermons at 
the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, before having to return 
home for a funeral. He noted in his report that the Brethren 
had never preached in this community before, but he believed 
that there were good prospects for the establishment of a 
Brethren congregation. Within six months he had baptized ten 
people with a number of others about ready for baptism. The 
prospects continued to be encouraging and about 1906 the 
Mountain View congregation located two miles from Volney, 
Virginia and three miles north of Grassy Creek, North 
Carolina was organized and admitted to the North Carolina 
district. 44 

There is virtually no record of the life of this congregation. 
A survey of the congregations in Ashe-Allethany area in 1919 
pointed out that at Mountain View the work was "run down." 
The earliest available membership figures indicate a mem- 
bership in 1925 of seventeen. The peak membership of twenty- 
one was reached in the late 1920's and held steady for several 
years. The last recorded figure was ten in the early 1940's. 
Those individuals who served as pastors and-or elders of the 
congregation included N. C. Reed, R. F. Richardson, and W. H. 
Handy, which makes Mountain View sound like an extension of 
Little Pine. The congregation expired in the early 1940's and 
was no longer included in the roster of congregations at the 
1943 District Conference. Evidently, this was one settlement of 
Brethren in which neither the local elements nor the outside 
assistance was strong enough to enable the congregation to 
gain a permanent status in its community. 

44. Ibid., February 27, 1904, page 140; July 9, 1904, page 445; District Meeting Minutes, 



In one sense the Brethren witness at Mountain View has 
been perpetuated in the Rowland Creek Brethren 
congregation in neighboring Smyth County, Virginia, for on 
July 15, 1911 some of the members of the Mountain View 
congregation held a congregational council meeting at 
Rowland Creek and organized a new Brethren congregation. 
W. H. Handy was the first pastor and elder and R. L. Suit was a 
local minister. Installed as deacons were R. F. Richardson, Ed 
Osborne, and R. B. Suit. Richardson was eventually ordained 
as a minister in February, 1924. The earliest worship services 
in this community were held in the school house, but land was 
donated by Carl Parsons on which a small white weather- 
board church was constructed. Many years later, in 1956, two 
Sunday School classrooms were added to the church. 45 

According to the published records, many different 
ministers have shared the responsibilities as pastor or elder of 
the Rowland Creek congregation, including N. C. Reed, Martin 
Owens, R. F. Richardson, Fred Dancy, W. H. Handy, F. C. 
Rohrer, J. A. Reed, F. Blake Million, Clayton B. Miller, J. W. 
Lowman, Paul Hopkins, J. R. Jackson, David Cleary, Connie 
Cleary, Holt Griffith, Gilbert Shelton, and Kermit Farrington. 
Perhaps Clayton B. Miller and David Cleary should be singled 
out for the length of their service as elder. Very likely, this 
congregation would have had to close its doors had it not been 
for the faithful and dedicated service of David Cleary. Also, 
the ministry of the Raymond Kesslers in 1967-1968 made a 
significant contribution to the life of this congregation, which 
was very much appreciated by the local people. 46 

The membership roll of this congregation has tended to be 
erratic with considerable variation within relatively short 
periods of time. The earliest statistics in 1925 reveal a 
membership of fifty-seven, which had increased to seventy- 

45. Mary Ann Pennington, "Local Church Historical Data," no date. 

46. Yearbooks, 1920-1971; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


eight by 1930. The next year it dropped to sixty-two and then 
rose steadily to ninety-four by 1940, which is the all-time high 
for Rowand Creek. During the decade of the 1940's the 
membership declined to a low of thirty-six in 1949, probably as 
the result of factors related to World War II. In 1950 the figure 
went back up to forty-seven, only to fall to thirty in 1953. By 
1957 it had again reached a high of seventy-eight, by the end of 
the decade in 1960 it stood at thirty-four, a loss of more than 
fifty per cent in three years. The erratic tendency continued in 
the 1960's with a high of forty-five in 1963 followed by a low of 
thirteen in 1966. By 1970 the membership figure had increased 
to forty-seven. Part of the reason for these wide variations in 
the membership was the presence of a schismatic group called 
the Independent Brethren Church, which was organized in the 
1950's. 47 

The regular program at Rowland Creek has included an 
annual Love Feast on the third Saturday of September of each 
year and preaching services in the morning and the evening of 
the third and fourth Sundays of each month. Services twice a 
month are more frequent than the once a month services 
universally practiced in the Carolina congregations early in 
the century, but still not the once a week level of most Brethren 
congregations in the 1960's. The Rowland Creek Brethren have 
reached a stage typical of many smaller Brethren 
congregations: They are too numerous to give up and not 
numerous enough to have a very adequate program for the 
people of the community. 


In the early years of the twentieth century, the Brethren in 
the Carolinas organized quite a number of new congregations, 
but from the time the Rowland Creek congregation was 
organized in 1911 by the Ashe- Alleghany Brethren it took 

47. Ibid.; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


fifteen years to get another congregation organized. In August 
of 1926 a group of Brethren split off from the New Bethel 
congregation to organize the New Haven Church of the 
Brethren, located four miles east of the New Bethel church. In 
what must be one of the most remarkable stories in Brethren 
annals, all of the thirty charter members of the New Haven 
congregation were members of the Sexton family- 
descendants of A. J. and Disa Sexton-including ten of the 
eleven children with six in-laws along with one or more of the 
grandchildren of each family. However, the presiding elder, 
W. H. Handy, came from outside of the family. All of the other 
officers, including two deacons, were members of the Sexton 
family. 48 

During the first forty years of the history of the New 
Haven congregation, three ministers have carried most of the 
load as pastor and-or elder. John A. Reed, who was a member 
of the Sexton family by marriage, served as pastor and-or 
elder from 1928 to 1949. Clayton B. Miller, who served many of 
the North Carolina congregations during more than fifty years 
of his life, was elder from 1949 to 1952 and again beginning in 
1963. Fred Dancy first become pastor of the congregation in 
1931 and continued until 1940. In 1946 he returned as pastor and 
continued for twenty-years until 1966; for eleven years of that 
time he was also the presiding elder of the congregation. 
Others who have served as pastor included Gilbert Osborne 
and Eli J. Gascho in the 1940's, and Vernon Wilkins from 1966 
to 1968. In 1968 Fred Dancy returned once again as pastor after 
serving for two years in a Florida pastorate. 49 

The membership of the New Haven congregation has 
tended to increase rather steadily with relatively few drastic 
changes under the leadership of these dedicated ministers. 
The greatest increase came during Fred Dancy's first 
pastorate in the 1930's, when the membership increased from 
twenty-nine in 1930 to seventy-two in 1940. The rate of growth 

48. "The New Haven Congregation," author not identified; also Gospel Messenger, 
November 27, 1926, page 773. 

49. Yearbooks, 1927-1969. 


was much slower during the next two decades 
reaching eighty-one in 1950 and ninety-three in 1960, which was 
the all-time high. After a sharp drop to seventy in 1961, the 
membership had increased to eighty-seven by 1970. 50 

The growth of the New Haven congregation can be at- 
tributed largely to an evangelistic fervor. One aspect of this 
evangelism has been the holding of periodic revival meetings 
from time to time. Among these meetings, the following might 
be cited as illustrative. In 1929 Clayton B. Miller held a series 
of meetings which resulted in six people being baptized and 
one person reclaimed. The Reed brothers, W. A. and N. C, 
conducted meetings in 1932 which included seventeen sermons 
and led to six baptisms. Newton L. Poling, a student at 
Bethany Seminary, conducted a two week revival and Bible 
School during the summer of 1941, after which three were 
baptized. Three years later James Renz from Wabash, In- 
diana held a revival which was followed by six baptisms. In 
1950, the pastor, Fred Dancy, collaborated with Glenn Rohrer 
in holding a week of revival meetings. In 1952, Coy Anders was 
present for a revival; in 1953, Earl Dietz, the pastor at Melvin 
Hill, held a revival in May, followed by one in September of 
that year by Bristoe Osborne. Paul White, pastor of the 
Fraternity congregation, was the evangelist in 1956, and 
Charles Rinehart, pastor of the Mill Creek and Melvin Hill 
congregations, held a revival in 1963. 51 In general, the pattern 
had been followed of using pastors from other North Carolina 
congregations as the evangelists in these meetings, but this 
type of person frequently proved to be the most effective 
leader in evangelism. 

The growth of the New Haven congregation can also be 
attributed to the development of a strong Sunday School and 
age-group program for the members of the congregation and 

50. Ibid., 1930-1971. 

51. Gospel Messenger, November 30, 1929, page 773; September 17, 1932, page 25; 
August 2, 1941, page 29; August 12, 1944, page 30; December 9, 1950, page 30; November 22, 
1952, page 30; June 20, 1953, page 31; January 2, 1954, page 31; March 30, 1957, page 32; 
November 23, 1963, page 31. 


the people of the community. In the earliest annual report of 
the Sunday School to the District Meeting of 1930, New Haven 
had five officers and teachers, a total enrollment of fifty-nine, 
and an average attendance of forty-four. The average at- 
tendance made it one of the three largest Sunday Schools in 
the entire district. There is no record of the earliest summer 
Daily Vacation Bible School, other than an indication that 
there must have been one in 1927. Some of the later ones are 
recorded: for example, in 1934, Fred Dancy, Ruth Sheets, and 
Delia Sexton were the leaders. The young people of the 
congregation organized a BYPD (Brethren Young People's 
Department) at least as early as 1933 with Willie Lee Poole the 
president. They engaged in a variety of activities. It was 
reported that on Mother's Day in 1941 the young people gave 
their mothers a surprise dinner and a small gift, followed by a 
program in the evening for all of the parents by the children 
and the young people. Later that year the Mt. Carmel and New 
Haven youth sponsored a week end conference for all of the 
district young people, which was the first such meeting in the 
district. In 1948 the young people were raising money by such 
means as a barbecue supper in order to redecorate the interior 
of the church. There was also the spiritual side of their life, for 
in 1953 they were meeting each Sunday evening for singing and 
Bible study, and in 1963 they had a special week of youth 
revival meetings by Robert L. Rowe, a Tennessee pastor, 
which led to three baptisms and a number of reconsecrations. 52 
The ladies of the congregation also maintained a very 
active program, beginning about 1938 when they organized a 
Sisters' Aid Society with Cora Sexton as president. One of 
the first projects was to raise money to build a larger church. 
The women were especially active during World War II in 
gathering clothing for the CPS (Civilian Public Service) 
camps and for world-wide relief; for example, during the 

52. District Meeting Minutes, 1930; Gospel Messenger, July 21, 1934, page 30; Sep- 
tember 23, 1933, page 28; August 2, 1941, page 29; November 27, 1948, page 30; January 2, 
1954, page 31; November 23, 1963, page 31. 


winter of 1944-1945 they sent two large boxes of clothing to the 
processing center at New Windsor, Maryland, and they also 
sent twelve Christmas boxes to boys in the service of their 
country and of their church. At the New Year service that 
winter a thirty dollar offering was taken for the support of 
CPS. During the next year, the women made quilts for CPS, 
and they sent three boxes of clothing and twenty dozen cans of 
food to New Windsor for relief; a related relief project was the 
gathering of soap. The Women's Work, as it was now known, 
was meeting every Thursday for worship, work, and 
fellowship. The gathering of clothing continued to be a regular 
part of the women's activities, for there continued to be a need 
in many places around the world. In addition, the women were 
concerned about those in need at home; for example, during 
the Christmas season of 1956 they visited and gave gifts to the 
ill and the aged in the community, which was a further 
manifestation of the spirit of Christian service. 53 


Shortly after the New Haven congregation was organized, 
Fred Dancy did some preaching which ended up in a revival 
meeting under some apple trees in the Lowmans Valley area 
of Virginia about three and a half miles south of Marion, 
Virginia. As a result of his efforts the Lowmans Valley 
congregation was organized in 1929 with a charter mem- 
bership of about twenty-three. Dancy served as the first 
pastor, and since he was not yet an elder, W. H. Handy became 
the presiding elder. Over the years since, many of the Carolina 
ministers have spent time serving this small congregation 
including Kermit Farrington, R.F.Richardson, J. W. Lowman, 
Clayton B. Miller, Paul Hopkins, W. A. Reed, David Cleary, 
Archie Wyatt, and Gilbert L. Shelton. Perhaps two of these 

53 Gospel Messenger, November 12, 1938, page 27; February 24, 1945, page 29; 
January 19, 1946, page 30; March 30, 1957, page 32. 


ought to receive special mention: Kermit Farrington was first 
connected with the congregation as pastor in 1931, and after 
serving at least four other periods of time as pastor, was 
serving as moderator in 1970. Paul Hopkins first became 
pastor in 1938, spent part of the 1940's and of the 1950's as 
pastor, and then served continuously from 1958 through 1969. 
Gilbert L. Shelton became the pastor in 1969. In fact, one of the 
striking characteristics of this congregation has been the 
frequent changes of pastor as different ministers took a turn in 
the non-salaried leadership. 

Another striking characteristic has been the stability of 
membership, which until the middle of the decade of the 1960's 
had never varied by more than ten from the charter mem- 
bership of twenty-three. After reaching a high for the decade 
of twenty-nine in 1936, the figure was down to twenty-five by 
1940. During the 1940's the number rose to thirty-three in 1947, 
but had fallen back to twenty-five by 1950. Again the mem- 
bership grew to thirty in 1955 but dropped to twenty-seven in 
1960 and twenty-five in 1963. 

For the first time, the Lowmans Valley Brethren seemed 
to catch fire in the 1960's. In 1963 Bert G. Richardson con- 
ducted a revival in the community, as a result of which seven 
young people were baptized. More important, the members of 
the congregation were challenged to remodel and improve the 
church. Additional Sunday School rooms were built, and steps 
were taken to provide a church that would meet the current 
needs of these Brethren. As a result, after reaching thirty-five, 
an all-time high, in 1967, the membership shot up to fifty-three 
in 1968 and reached fifty-seven in 1970. 54 Certainly, this 
congregation had not followed what seemed to be a 
widespread tendency among the Ashe-Alleghany 
congregations. In the first place, its membership total had 
never fallen below its charter membership, and second, it had 
more than doubled its charter membership by 1970. Evidently, 
there was some real possibility for growth in this community. 

54. Yearbooks, 1931-1971; material from Bert G. Richardson. 



Another area in which there seemed for a time to be a real 
possibility for growth and development was the Reddies River 
community in Wilkes County about fifteen miles north of 
North Wilkesboro. Evidently, a predecessor of this Brethren 
group was the Burke congregation which must have been in 
existence very early in the twentieth century. Martin Owens 
was the organizer and first elder of this group, which was 
never listed in the roster of congregations represented at the 
District Meetings. The Sheets family was active in this set- 
tlement, and one of the early ministers was Tom Sheets. In 
addition, G. W. Tucker and Robert Childers also preached in 
this community. Probably about 1912 the center of activity 
was moved to the Reddies River community, where the 
congregation was reorganized and named Mill Creek; after 
discovering that there was already a congregation in the 
district with that name, the Brethren selected the name, Mt. 
Olive. Martin Owens reported in 1913 that this was a new 
mission point where the Brethren had begun to preach on the 
fourth Sunday of April of 1912 ; within a year the group had 
increased to sixteen members and a church was being built. 
However, the Mt. Olive congregation like its predecessor was 
never recognized by the District Meeting, nor was it listed in 
the Yearbook of the denomination. 55 


In 1929 it seems that George A. Branscom of the district 
mission board assisted this group of Brethren in formally 
organizing the Riverside congregation, which was recognized 
by the 1930 District Conference. G. W. Tucker and Gilbert 
Osborne, both of whom were members of this congregation, 

55. David Cleary, "Historical Data," August 1,1957; Gospel Messenger, March 1,1913, 
page 140; Yearbooks, 1919-1929. 


served as the pastors with Branscom as elder. The charter 
membership was about twenty-two. In addition to these 
ministers, most of the ministers who worked with the 
congregations in this section of North Carolina also con- 
tributed their services to the Riverside congregation, in- 
cluding Kermit Farrington, David Cleary, Fred Dancy, 
Spencer Wingler, Clayton B. Miller, Archie Wyatt, Connie 
Cleary, and William P. Leftwich. 

The congregation grew rather steadily in membership for 
a number of years. By 1933, there were thirty-three members, 
and by 1940, forty-nine. This growth continued through the 
decade of the 1940's reaching seventy-three in 1950 and the all- 
time high of seventy-five in 1952. Then the membership began 
to drop very rapidly as the Brethren moved out of the com- 
munity, and in five years the figure had reached twenty-five, 
causing David Cleary to comment: "At present the mem- 
bership and Sunday School are both down very low compared 
with what it one time was." The decline could not be arrested, 
and in 1966 the congregation was disorganized. Before the 
property could be sold, the church burned. The land was sold 
and the money went to the District. Thus ended the Brethren 
witness in a declining rural community. 56 


However, the closing of the Riverside congregation was 
not a complete loss as far as the Brethren were concerned 
because some of the members were incorporated into a new 
congregation located in the city of North Wilkesboro. When 
David Cleary noted the decline of the Riverside congregation 
in 1957, he added: "A number have moved their letters to the 
Friendship Church at North Wilkesboro which we hope to be a 
strong church in the future." Indeed David Cleary had been 
the leader in getting the Brethren witness established in this 

56. Ibid.; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


city, for as early as September, 1943 a Sunday School had 
been organized in Charlie Brown's home with John Osborne as 
superintendent. In the ensuing years meetings had been held 
in a number of places including Beldon Osborne's planter 
shed, James Osborne's store building, John Osborne's 
basement, and the Warren Miller Funeral Home. Obviously, in 
addition to Cleary, the members of the Osborne family were 
very influential in establishing the work in North Wilkesboro. 

On September 14, 1954 the Friendship Church of the 
Brethren was organized at a meeting at the Warren Miller 
Funeral Home with Bert G. Richardson presiding as a 
representative of the District. The twenty-five people present 
selected David Cleary as pastor and elder. In addition, Rex 
Sheets, L. B. Wayne, and Beldon Osborne were deacons in the 
new congregation. Plans were discussed for securing per- 
manent church facilities for the group, and in the spring of 1957 
these plans came to a climax with the purchase of a storage 
building, which could be remodeled, from the Greene 
Brothers. Many improvements were made both in the inside 
and the outside of the building to make it more attractive and 
useful as the home of the congregation. 

In 1969 when the congregation was considering seriously 
the need for an addition to the church, which would include 
rest rooms, the Brethren decided to invest the money instead 
in a new church. Plans were developed, a loan was secured 
from the national office of the denomination, and in July, 1969, 
construction was started. By the second Sunday of November, 
the work was sufficiently completed to permit the holding of 
services in the basement of the new church. The windows 
which had recently been installed in the old church were now 
transferred to the sanctuary of the new church, and on the 
second Sunday of December, 1969, the congregation gathered 
for worship in its newly completed sanctuary. In addition, new 
oak furniture including pews, pulpit, communion table, and 
three pulpit chairs, was installed. In the basement there were 
four Sunday School rooms, in addition to a small kitchen and 


dining area, two rest rooms, and a furnace room. The church, 
which was 32 feet by 54 feet in dimensions, was built of brick 
and concrete blocks, and was designed to serve the needs of 
the Friendship congregation for years to come. 

The Brethren in North Wilkesboro developed an active 
program under the leadership of a number of dedicated men 
and women. The pastors and elders have including Phil Zinn, 
pastor in 1957, Merle Rummel, summer pastor in 1957 and 1958, 
Rex Sheets, pastor since 1957,Kermit Farrington, elder in 1959, 
and David Cleary, who has been the elder and moderator for 
all but the one year since the organization. The leadership of 
Rex Sheets has been particularly outstanding. The activities 
of the congregation have included an annual Love Feast held 
on the Saturday night before the fourth Sunday in September, 
an annual picnic each summer, an annual Easter sunrise 
service, a Christmas program each year, and revival meetings 
each spring and fall. In terms of stewardship, the congregation 
provides regular support for the District Board and Camp 
Carmel, the Brotherhood Fund, Bridgewater College, 
Bethany Theological Seminary, and such special projects as 
UNICEF, the Heifer Project, and the One Great Hour of 
Sharing. 57 

All of the dedicated leadership and of the active parish 
program has been reflected in a growth of membership from 
the charter membership of ten in 1954. The early years were 
difficult years and by 1960 the membership had reached 
nineteen. However, in the 1960's the growth was more rapid. In 
September of 1960, Bert G. Richardson held a revival, as a 
result of which sixteen people were added to the membership. 
The total continued to grow and more than doubled to thirty- 
nine in 1962. By 1970 the young congregation had sixty-three 
members. Evidently, there was the potential present for 
continued steady growth as the Brethren began to sink deeper 
roots into the surrounding community. Indeed the Brethren in 

57. Ibid.; David Cleary, Brenda Osborne, and Sylvia Adams, "Local Church 
Historical Data," June 9, 1967; material from Rex Sheets. 


the Carolinas had proven that in the difficult years following 
World War II, they could establish new congregations. 


In addition to the new Friendship congregation which the 
Brethren established in the community of North Wilkesboro, 
the Brethren in North Carolina also organized a new 
congregation in the 1960's in the Mt. Airy community. 
Traditionally, this territory had been a part of the district of 
Southern Virginia, which had congregations at Shelton, four 
miles east of Mt. Airy, and at St. Paul, eight miles north of Mt. 
Airy. However, the North Carolina District Conference of 1962 
heard and granted a request "that the Mt. Airy Fellowship be 
received in the North and South Carolina District and their 
delegates be seated in Conference." This new congregation 
was the result of a split in the Shelton congregation, which 
helps to explain why the new fellowship wanted to become a 
part of the District of North and South Carolina. 58 

Evidently, what happened was that in January, 1962, W. H. 
Hawks rented a store building on Durham and South Streets in 
the town of Mt. Airy. He proposed "to try and get the persons 
who had stopped going to Sheltontown Church of the Brethren, 
started to going to church somewhere." At the first meeting 
the 26 people present decided to start a new Brethren 
fellowship in Mt. Airy, and they asked D. B. Osborne to serve 
as pastor. The group also decided to take steps leading to the 
building of an attractive church on Welch Road, which was 
completed in December, 1963, and dedicated in 1964. 

The first inclusion of this fellowship in the Yearbook in 
1963 revealed a membership of forty-one, and a leadership 
including D. B. Osborne as pastor and J. R. Jackson as 
moderator. In addition, David Cleary, Coy Anders, and 

58. Yearbooks, 1954-1971; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


Clarence Mabe have served as leaders in the intervening 
years. Mabe was serving as pastor in 1970. The new work in 
this community seemed to prosper, for the membership in- 
creased steadily. In 1965 the membership reached fifty-one, 
thus fulfilling the requirement that a fellowship have at least 
fifty members in order to be organized as a congregation. By 
1970 the membership had increased further to seventy-three, 
thus reflecting a continued steady growthf Thus, the Brethren 
were again getting some work started that looked encouraging 
for the future. 

The Brethren have been very active in the general Ashe- 
Alleghany area in the 20th century. Altogether seventeen of 
the congregations in the North and South Carolina District 
have been located in this area. Eleven of these were still in 
existence in 1970, although some were not very active. Most of 
them have a very limited membership; only one had more 
than one hundred members in 1970. None of them has a full- 
time pastor who receives all of his income from one 
congregation. But there are many loyal Brethren in those 
mountain valleys, and they do what they can to keep the 
church alive. 



The mother congregation in the mountains of western 
North Carolina was organized in 1845 and became known as 
Brummetts Creek. By 1902 this congregation was one of the 
strongest in the district with eighty-five members, which 
made it the second largest in the district. However, the 
changes of the twentieth century which affected the Brethren 
along with everybody else have wrought havoc with these 

59. Yearbooks, 1963-1971; District Conference Minutes, 1962, 1965; material from 
Loretta Mabe. 


mountain people of Appalachia, and the Brethren 
congregations in this area have generally declined. 

In 1919, J. H. Moore, for many years the editor of the 
Gospel Messenger, attended the district conference at 
Brummetts Creek and reported to his readers some of his 
impressions of the area: 

The District Meeting, to which we refer, was held in the 
Brummett Creek church, near Relief, N. C, about thirty-four 
miles south of Johnson City , Tenn. It, too, is in the very midst of 
the extensive mountain section of North Carolina. Here the 
country is practically all mountains, with numerous narrow 
valleys extending in nearly every direction. The house in 
which the meeting was held is located at a point where the 
valley is probably not more than 400 feet wide, and nearly one- 
half of this is taken up with the house, the dashing mountain 
stream and the public road. 

Passing up this valley one finds a farm-house, and other 
necessary farm buildings, about every quarter of a mile, and 
some of the houses are well built and neatly finished. So far as 
we could see, each family had its spring, and some of the 
springs are a delight, making spring-houses both common and 
exceedingly convenient. The narrow valleys and the steep 
mountain sides are well farmed and it is surprising what crops 
are often produced. The people live, and they live well. 

At some of the services there were probably 300 or more 
people, and nearly all of them walked, some of them coming 
from quite a distance. When we, for the first time, viewed the 
location of the churchhouse, at the foot of a mountain, we 
wondered where people enough could be found to fill it. But 
they were on hand all the same, and wore out a hundred per 
cent more sole leather than automobile tires to get there. We 
found the people, members and others, intelligent, industrious 
and the very embodiment of hospitality. 

As for the churches, they may not have as many active 
working agencies as can be found in many other parts of the 
Brotherhood, but in their way, composed solely of mountain 
people, they display an activity and a zeal that is to be com- 
mended. Possibly, in a way, a more intimate association with 


the members of some of our active congregations would help 
them, and in other ways it might prove a detriment. Some of 
them may need more system in their church work, and their 
church activities, but the worldly influences that are creeping 
into some of our congregations would prove a decided 
detriment in their work among the mountain people. They 
have a widely-known reputation for the simplicity in life, and 
to deprive them of this reputation would be greatly to cripple 
them in their soul-saving and church-training work. Some new 
blood, as well as some new brains, of the right type ought to 
prove a blessing to this whole mountain territory. 

The congregations composing the part of the District lying 
in North Carolina and South Carolina, seem to be in three 
groups, with nearly 100 miles between them. The meeting was 
held in the center group. In filling appointments, and keeping 
up the church work, some of the ministers must ride, generally 
on horseback, many miles each Sunday. A few evangelists are 
kept in the field much of the time, and where there is an 
opening they do not hesitate to tackle new points. In fact, 
nearly all of the congregations have been built up of native 
material, emigration cutting only a small figure in 
establishing churches. The members, considering their cir- 
cumstances, are fairly liberal in their gifts for missions and 
other purposes. For the year, closing with the meeting, the 
donations for the three groups of churches did not miss the 
$1200 mark very far. Were the churches as persistent and 
systematic in reporting their contributions as are some of the 
State Districts, their showing in the published reports would 
indicate a far higher grade in the scale of giving. 

And now, to sum it all up, we know of no section of the 
Brotherhood where the outlook for evangelistic work and the 
building up of churches is more promising. We do not mean 
that class of preaching that simply sweeps people into the 
church by a magnetic influence, but a type of teaching that 
leads to a thorough conversion after the New Testament order. 
There are openings in the District for more than a dozen ef- 
ficient and energetic, Gospel-preaching evangelists. Really, 
this whole mountain section is an open field for the Brethren, 
for their preachers, their literature and their wisely-directed 
educational influences. 60 

60. Gospel Messenger, October 4, 1919, page 627. 


This fine description provides an insight, that would otherwise 
be quite difficult to convey, into the problems of developing 
Brethren congregations in this section of North Carolina. 

Many dedicated ministers have provided the leadership 
for the Brummetts Creek congregation in the twentieth cen- 
tury including M. E. Bradshaw, J. R. Jackson, J. H. Griffith, R. 
V. Tipton, A. M. Laughrun, Fred Dancy, Fred Harrell, Grady 
Masters, Holt Griffith, and John W. Bradshaw. Were it not for 
the four members of the Griffith and Bradshaw families in this 
list, the congregation certainly would not have survived. M. E. 
Bradshaw had served as pastor and-or elder on different 
occasions in the 1920's and the 1930's and had been Sunday 
School superintendent for thirty-five years before his death in 
1942. J. H. Griffith also had been pastor and-or elder for a time 
in the 1920's and again in the 1940's. Holt E. Griffith became 
the pastor of the congregation in the early 1950's and was 
continuing to serve faithfully in that position in 1970. Finally, 
John W. Bradshaw became moderator in 1956 and also was 
serving in that position in 1970. 61 

In addition to these pastors and elders, a number of 
visiting ministers have come into the congregation to conduct 
evangelistic meetings. Among the many such occasions might 
be mentioned the meetings by S. H. Garber in conjunction with 
A. M. Laughrun in February, 1908, followed by meetings by 
John Garst and Laughrun in November of that year. In 1911 W. 
A. Reed from Polk County preached eighteen sermons which 
resulted in fourteen baptisms and generally strengthened the 
congregation. Robert Edwards held meetings at Brummetts 
Creek in 1914. Since the meetings were held in January when 
there was not very much activity in the rural community, he 
preached both in the morning and in the evening and had a 
good attendance. Of course, the local ministers sometimes 
conducted series of meetings. In 1917 A. M. Laughrun 
preached for twelve days and thirty-one persons were bap- 
tized, and in 1921 meetings by J. R. Jackson were followed by 

61. Yearbooks, 1920-1971; Gospel Messenger, July 11, 1942, page 28. 


eighteen baptisms. J. H. Peterson from Fountain City, Ten- 
nessee was at Brummetts Creek to preach eighteen sermons 
in 1926. More than a decade later in 1937, E. S. Coffman, one of 
the better-known evangelists in the church, conducted two 
weeks of meetings. Another of the well-known figures in the 
church who visited Brummetts Creek for two weeks of 
meetings in 1942 was I. N. H. Beahm. 62 Certainly, this 
program of evangelism had contributed immensely to the 
survival of the Brethren witness in this mountainous North 
Carolina community. 

Besides those leaders who visited Brummetts Creek to 
conduct evangelistic meetings, occasionally someone came to 
provide other types of inspiration and leadership. For 
example, in October of 1911, the great Brethren leader and 
traveler, D. L. Miller, was present to preach and to deliver his 
Bible land talk to an appreciative audience of four hundred. 
Clearly, this was an enriching and broadening experience for 
these mountain people. At the end of the decade, in 1919, Virgil 
C. Finnell of the brotherhood staff was present for four days to 
deliver seven lessons and lectures on the Sunday School 
program. As a result the congregational Sunday School was 
enlarged to include a cradle roll for the infants, a teacher 
training class, a home department, a missionary department, 
and a temperance department. Another illustration of 
denominational interest in the local congregation was the visit 
in 1942 of Dan West of the church's general staff in the interest 
of the peace program and activities of the church. One result 
was a decision in congregational council to support the CPS 
(Civilian Public Service) program of alternative service by 
encouraging the purchase of the special Brethren savings 
stamps. The congregation had been prepared for Dan West's 
coming by such activities as the organization of a youth group 
in the summer of 1940 which studied peace and war under the 

62. Gospel Messenger, February 29, 1908, page 140; December 5, 1908, page 796; March 
4, 1911, page 141; January 31, 1914, page 76; August 18, 1917, page 525; September 24, 1921, 
page 589; March 13,1926,page 173; December 11, 1937, page 29; July 11, 1942, page 29. 


leadership of Fred Herrell. 63 All of these activities were 
manifestations of the interest in and support of the general 
program of the Church of the Brethren. 

The Brummetts Creek Brethren made an effort across the 
years to maintain the attractiveness of their church. In the 
summer of 1938 in preparation for the hosting of the District 
Conference in August, the Brethren painted the church and 
purchased new carpet and pews. During the next year, they 
bought a piano for their church, which may possibly have been 
the first introduction of a musical instrument, since the 
Brethren had historically opposed the use of instruments in 
their worship. During the decade of the 1950's new flooring, 
new lights, and a baptistry were installed in the church in a 
continuing effort to make the church as attractive as possible. 64 

That these mountain Brethren had an interest in their 
history was demonstrated by the holding of a celebration on 
August 13, 1939 to commemorate "Mr. and Mrs. I. B. Bailey, 
Sr.'s, 50th year of service to the church." The big event in- 
cluded an all-day service with a dinner at the church, attended 
by a crowd estimated at from four to five hundred. After a roll 
call by the pastor, J. H. Griffith described the history of the 
organization of the congregation, M. E. Bradshaw discussed 
the history of the ministry, and A. M. Laughrun gave the 
memorial address. In addition several former pastors gave 
short talks, and Fred Herrell summarized the future potential 
of the congregation. Finally, Mrs. Hazel Roberts gave a talk on 
the activities of the women in the total church program. 65 It 
must have been quite a day! 

The membership record of the Brummetts Creek 
congregation has taken many jumps, both up and down. 
During the first quarter of the century the figure seems to 

63. I bid., November 11, 1911, page 721; February 8, 1919, page 93; October 24, 1942, page 
27; Brummetts Creek congregational council minutes, July 14, 1940; July 21, 1940; July 28, 

64. Ibid., February 18, 1939, page 28; September 16, 1939, page 31; July 12, 1952, pages 
31-32; October 5, 1957, page 31. 

65. Ibid., September 16, 1939, page 31; material from Betty Griffith. 


have held fairly steady declining only slightly from eighty-five 
in 1902 to eighty in 1925. Then the number jumped to one 
hundred in 1927, held steady for several years and then 
plummetted to sixty in 1931. No explanation for this big drop is 
available. Instead of acting as the beginning of a steady 
decline, however, this drop proved to be the bottom of the 
decline and a steady growth began which reached an all-time 
high of one hundred six in 1945. After declining slowly to 
eighty-eight in 1948, a careful review of the membership roll 
necessitated by the changes during and after World War II 
resulted in a net membership of thirty in 1949. Again, however, 
after reaching an all-time low of twenty-eight in 1950, the 
membership began to increase and had climbed to sixty-two 
by 1954, at least partly as the result of a movement of Brethren 
from the Upper Brummetts Creek congregation to the 
Brummetts Creek congregation, which was sometimes called 
Lower Brummetts Creek. This movement was brought about 
by changes taking place at Upper Brummetts Creek, which 
will be explained in connection with the discussion of that 
congregation. By the 1960's the economic problems associated 
with this mountainous area seemed to be taking their toll in 
the life of this Brethren congregation, and the membership by 
1970 had declined to thirty-nine. 66 Whether the Brummetts 
Creek congregation could once again recover as it had done on 
two previous occasions was a question which only time could 


The Yellow Poplar congregation listed in Howard Miller's 
summary of the Church of the Brethren in 1882 had become the 
Hollow Poplar congregation by the time of the first District 
Meeting of the new North Carolina district in 1902. At that time 
it had one minister, three deacons, and forty members ac- 

66. Yearbooks, 1925-1971; material from Betty Griffith. 


cording to the statistical information included with the 
District Meeting Minutes. 67 These members were widely 
scattered in the same type of mountain valleys of Mitchell 
County described by J. H. Moore in connection with the 
Brummetts Creek congregation. And this congregation 
located a short distance outside of the village of Poplar faced 
most of the same problems which confronted the Brummetts 
Creek Brethren. Consequently, the history of this congregation 
runs along lines similar to those already told. 

As is true of most of the Carolina Brethren congregations, 
many dedicated ministers sacrificed generously of their time 
and talent to provide the leadership which has sustained the 
Brethren congregation in the Poplar community. Among those 
ministers who ought to be mentioned are E. Peterson, Robert 
Willis, J. W. Honeycutt, J. R. Jackson, J. D. Peterson, R. Vance 
Tipton, S. S. Bryant, A. M. Laughrun, Joseph W. Barnett, 
Samuel Arrowood, Martin Edwards, Grady Masters, Fred 
Dancy, G. W. Slagle, Calvin Barnett, Andy Johnson, Henry H. 
Peterson, and Charles Laws. Along with such visiting 
evangelists as J. H. Peterson, S. M. Laughrun, H. M. Griffith, 
R. N. Miller, and Reuel B. Pritchett, the ministers who served 
as pastors and elders conducted countless evangelistic 
meetings in the local church and along the highways and by- 
ways of western North Carolina. Among the places mentioned 
in the one year of 1904 were the Byrd Chapel in Yancey County 
where several of these ministers preached for a week to a 
crowded house, the Baptist Zion church in Yancey County 
where S. M. Laughrun and J. H. Peterson preached eight 
sermons under the direction of the district mission board, and 
the Ritchie Mountain settlement of fourteen families where E. 
Peterson preached in the homes. In another year, 1919, it is 
recorded that E. Peterson and W. M. Honeycutt preached to 
large crowds at the Bliss school house near the Poplar 
church, that J. H. Griffith and Vance Tipton conducted a ten 

67. Howard Miller, The Record of the Faithful, page 30; District Meeting Minutes, 


day evangelistic meeting in the Poplar church, and that 
Peterson and Honeycutt traveled eighteen miles to Fordville, 
Tennessee for a week of meetings where the Brethren had 
never held services before. 68 


In the early 1920's changes took place in the organizational 
framework of the Hollow Poplar congregation. J. R. Jackson 
led out in the establishment of the Petersons Chapel 
congregation, which was officially organized in 1923. Billy 
Peterson donated the land on which a new church was erected 
in 1922; for a number of years down into the middle 1930's the 
congregation maintained services in the old church north of 
Poplar as well as in the new church nearer the town. 69 

The new Petersons Chapel congregation began with forty- 
six members, only a slight increase over the membership of 
forty in 1902. After 1923 the membership of the Petersons 
Chapel congregation held a relatively stable pattern in the 
fifties and sixties for some thirty years ; it reached an all-time 
high of seventy in 1935. Then about 1957 the membership roll 
took a precipitate drop to thirty-nine. It recovered slightly to 
forty-three in 1962, but by 1970 it had fallen back to thirty- 
nine. 70 That is not enough members on whom to base a very 
active church program, and the future of one more Carolina 
congregation hangs in the balance. 


Another of the Mitchell County congregations which dates 
back to the nineteenth century and which was having difficulty 

68. Yearbooks, 1920-1971; Gospel Messenger, September 3, 1904, page 572; April 2, 1904, 
page 220; November 12, 1904, page 736; February 25, 1919, page 125; March 22, 1919, page 
189; September 27, 1919, page 620. 

69. District Meeting Minutes, 1924; Bert G. Richardson, "Notes on Petersons 
Chapel." 1958. 

70. Yearbooks, 1925 1971. 


surviving in the last one-third of the twentieth century was 
Pleasant Grove, located several miles north of Red Hill. The 
Masters and Herrell families which were largely responsible 
for the beginning of this Brethren settlement continued to 
provide much of the leadership in the twentieth century. If the 
Griffith family from Brummetts Creek is added to the 
leadership corps, there are indeed relatively few additional 
ministers who contributed significantly to the Pleasant Grove 
program. H. M. Griffith was the elder of the congregation for 
most of the first thirty-five years of the century, and Holt 
Griffith was the pastor for two years in the 1960's. Hoke H. 
Masters was the elder for one year in the 1930's, Grady 
Masters was the elder from 1938 to 1950, Norris Masters was 
the moderator (a term introduced in the 1950's) from 1956 to 
1961, and C. B. Masters became the moderator in 1968 and was 
serving in that capacity in 1970. Fred Herrell was the pastor 
from 1941 to 1944 and again from 1948 to 1950, and Bruce 
Herrell became the moderator in 1961 and continued to serve 
until 1968. Aside from these three families then, J. R. Jackson, 
who has been related in some way to most of the Carolina 
congregations, served as elder for a time in the 1920's and 
again as a part-time pastor in the 1960's. R. Vance Tipton 
served terms as elder in the 1920's, the 1930's, and the 1950's. 
From 1938 to 1940 Fred Dancy was the part-time pastor. In 
1952 Philip Zinn became the first full-time pastor, whom the 
congregation had attempted to support. After his departure 
for another pastorate in 1956, it was impossible to secure 
another full-time pastor and Bert G. Richardson served on a 
part-time basis for two years. Richard A. Smith was a sum- 
mer pastor on two different occasions in the late 1950's. After 
an interim, Robert Winkler began a full-time pastorate in 1960 
which lasted only five months, however. After two-year 
pastorates by Holt Griffith and J. R. Jackson, Claud Leslie 
became the pastor in 1964 and continued to serve until 1970. 
Holt Griffith accepted the responsibility again in 1970. 71 Thus, 

71. Ibid., 1920-1971; Mrs. Etta W. Bryant, "Local Church Historical Data," August 24, 


the Brethren at Pleasant Grove had attempted to provide for 
their leadership needs across the years both by using local 
ministers and by bringing in outside ministers. 

These various ministers provided some notable 
evangelistic meetings in this area of Mitchell County. A. M. 
Laughrun from Tennessee visited in this community 
frequently. In 1909 he teamed with H. M. Griffith to deliver 
sixteen sermons which were well attended. He was back 
periodically in 1921, in 1923, in 1930, and in 1942, according to the 
available records. J. R. Jackson was also a frequent 
evangelist at Pleasant Grove beginning in 1919. After holding a 
number of revival meetings, he was still preaching to the 
Brethren in this area more than forty years later. Another 
evangelist who was widely known across the district, W. A. 
Reed, remained at Pleasant Grove after the District Meeting 
of 1910 in order to conduct a revival which led to twenty-five 
baptisms and which strengthened the congregation 
significantly. Another long-remembered experience from 
these early years of the century was a revival by Robert G. 
Edwards of Jonesboro, Tennessee, in which he preached 
twenty-three sermons that led to eleven baptisms. 72 

Other individuals who have visited Pleasant Grove in 
various capacities included S. A. Honberger, who held a series 
of meetings in 1917 in which many Brethren were deeply 
stirred, T. S. Moherman, who represented the interests of 
Daleville College, and Virgil C. Finnell, who was seeking to 
strengthen the program of Christian education. At about the 
same time as Finnell's visit in 1919, Clayton B. Miller taught a 
Bible school in which he met with the children each morning 
for lessons from the Gospel of Mark and in the evening he 
discussed the book of Revelation with the adults; it was an 
"uplifting and inspiring" experience for the congregation. 
Miller returned in 1920 for another six week Bible school, 

72. Gospel Messenger, March 13,1909,page 172; August 27, 1921, page 525; January 13, 
1923, page 29; October 25, 1930, page 684; June 13, 1942, page 28; September 20, 1919, page 
605; September 17, 1910, page 605; August 17, 1918, page 525. 


which also emphasized teacher training. More recent 
evangelists included I. N. H. Beahm in 1942, Floyd Biddix in 
1953, and Russell G. West in I960. 73 

In order to have a place for all of these leaders to preach 
and teach, it was necessary for the Pleasant Grove Brethren to 
erect a church. In 1901 they opened the new century by 
beginning work on a church. The members did about all of the 
work on the structure. It was a wooden building, and the 
ceiling boards were purchased in Johnson City, Tennessee, 
shipped to Relief by train, and hauled by wagon to the church 
site by K. B. Bryant, Don Masters, and Jason Webb. It took 
some time to get all of this work done and the funds raised, and 
the church was not completed until 1907. This church served a 
generation of worshippers for some thirty years, but by the 
1930's the congregation had increased in size by fifty per cent 
and needed more room. Under the leadership of pastor Fred 
Dancy, the members razed the old church on October 19, 1939 
and began work on a new brick church on December 14 of that 
year. The work was completed by March 16, 1940, and on the 
following day the congregation met for the first time in its new 
church for a council meeting under the leadership of elders 
Grady Masters and R. Vance Tipton. The building committee 
which had supervised the building of the new church included, 
in addition to the pastor, Myra Hughes, Andrew Byrd, and 
Grady Masters. In order to provide more adequately for the 
fellowship and recreational needs of the community, a small 
community building was built in 1942 under the leadership of 
pastor Fred Herrell. A much more adequate building for this 
purpose was constructed of cement blocks in 1954 which 
contained a large dining hall and a well-equipped kitchen. 74 
Through these building programs stretching over fifteen 
years, the Pleasant Grove Church of the Brethren had at- 
tempted to meet the spiritual needs of its members. 

73. Ibid., December 8, 1917, page 789; October 5, 1918, page 636; February 25, 1919, page 
125; March 1,1919, page 141; March 15, 1919, page 173; April 17, 1920, page 253; June 13, 
1942, page 28; December 12, 1953, page 32. 

74. Mrs. EttaW. Bryant, "Local Church Historical Data," August 24,1967. 


According to the available records, the Pleasant Grove 
Brethren organized their first Sunday School in March of 1910 
with Joe Griffith, one of the ministers of the congregation, as 
superintendent. This new program developed by ups and 
downs. In 1919, it received a valuable boost by the previously 
mentioned visit of Virgil C. Finnell who gave five lectures and 
suggested ways in which the program might be strengthened. 
As a result, a teacher training class, a cradle roll, and a home 
department were added. About a year later, the congregation 
organized a Christian Workers' meeting, which was a new 
program just being developed by the Brethren for the young 
people; J. H. Griffith was selected as the superintendent. 
Later in that year, George A. Branscom came from Melvin 
Hill to discuss the educational work of the church; it was 
reported at this time that the Sunday School was "doing fine 
and increasing in number." In 1926 it was noted that the 
Sunday School attendance was seventy, which incidentally 
was also the total membership of the congregation at that 
time. The young people continued to be active, for the record 
shows that in 1930 and again in 1942 (when the group was 
known as the BYPD-Brethren Young People's Department) 
they were meeting regularly each Sunday evening. In 1952- 
1953 the young people sent a representative to the peace essay 
contest at Camp Carolina and presented a Christmas drama 
for the congregation. 75 Certainly, the Sunday School and the 
youth activities were playing a significant role in the total 
program of this congregation. 

A final insight into the life of the Pleasant Grove 
congregation is provided by a relatively complete set of 
congregational council meeting minutes covering the years 
from 1913 to 1933. Since this is the only congregation for which 
such minutes are available, they have been examined quite 
thoroughly. However, it should be understood that the actions 

75. Gospel Messenger, April 2, 1919, page 221; February 25, 1919, page 125; April 17, 
1920, page 253; June 16, 1920, page 381; September 25, 1926, page 621; October 25, 1930, page 
684; June 13, 1942, page 28; May 23, 1953, page 32; December 12, 1953, page 32. 


at Pleasant Grove were typical of what was taking place in 
most Brethren congregations during these years and were not 
distinctive. During these years, the congregational council 
exerted a rather strict control over the life of the Brethren and 
membership was withdrawn from offenders. Such action was 
taken in 1913 and in 1916 for drinking, in 1916 for the wearing of 
a lady's hat, and in 1919 for some unidentified "trouble." The 
year 1919 marked the last recorded case of excommunication. 76 

The transition in the church in patterns of dress needs to 
be examined in greater detail. During the nineteenth century 
the Annual Meeting discussed the sectarian garb worn by the 
Brethren on many occasions, so that in 1898 it was reported to 
the Meeting that there were "seventy-four decisions covering 
various phases of non-conformity to the world in dress and in 
adorning the body." The pressure to change the pattern in- 
creased steadily in the early years of the twentieth century 
and a committee was appointed by the Annual Meeting to 
bring recommendations. The report to the Meeting in 1910 was 
rejected and a new committee was appointed. This report to 
the Meeting in 1911 which refused to make the adherence to the 
pattern of dress a test of membership was accepted by the 
Meeting. In effect it put affairs into the hands of the local 
congregation. 77 

At Pleasant Grove and probably in most of the Carolina 
congregations a rather conservative policy was followed 
which was reflected in the decisions of the District Meeting 
during these years. As late as 1919 the District Meeting urged 
the congregations not to baptize a man who wore a necktie or a 
woman who wore a hat (rather than a bonnet). Those who 
were members and who were wearing these forbidden items 
were to give them up or have their membership taken away: 
According to a Pleasant Grove decision of November 18, 1919, 

76. Pleasant Grove congregational council minutes, March 15,1913; September 1916; 
July 14, 1916; November 18, 1919. 

77. For a more detailed discussion, see Roger E. Sappington, Brethren Social Policy, 
1908-1958 (Elgin: The Brethren Press, 1961), pages 21 22,30 31. 


"Our Elder submits a proposition. That the ones that are 
wearing these things be visited and ask them if they would 
rather have their membership and come to the rules, or 
continue to wear these and go out. The Church accepts the 
proposition." This rather blunt proposition seems to have been 
accepted by the erring members who generally took the 
position that "if she is wearing any thing the church objects to 
she will lay it off." The records do not indicate that any of the 
Pleasant Grove Brethren were put out of the congregation as 
the result of this 1919 decision. The congregational historian, 
Mrs. Etta W. Bryant, summarized the whole matter very well 
when she wrote: "From the time the church was organized all 
members were supposed to live according to the rules of the 
Church of the Brethren, until in 1922 they dropped the dress 
question; now no one is dealt with for any wrong deed they 
do." 78 

The congregational council meeting also took a positive 
role of trying to settle difficulties between Brethren, since the 
Brethren believed that they ought to keep their difficulties 
within the group rather than taking them to court. In 1913 the 
congregation appointed a committee which settled a case of 
trespassing. In 1919 a very difficult situation involving two 
ministers in the congregation developed out of a dispute over a 
line fence and the movement of some logs through another 
person's property. The procedure followed was according to 
Matthew 18: First, the two people involved should try to work 
it out; then, if that failed, a third person should be called in; 
and finally, the congregation should settle it. After the first two 
steps had failed to reach an agreement in this case, a four-man 
committee appointed by the council worked out a com- 
promise. Even then it took most of another year to get 
everyone's feelings calmed down, so that the two men could go 

78. District Meeting Minutes, 1919-1920; Pleasant Grove congregational council 
minutes, November 18,1919; April, 1920; Mrs. Etta W. Bryant, "Local Church Historical 
Data," August 24, 1967. 


to the Love Feast together. 79 After all, the Brethren were 
human beings with feelings and emotions like everyone else. 

The annual Love Feast was a great experience for the 
Brethren, involving the washing of each other's feet, the eating 
of a meal together, and the partaking of the bread and the cup, 
as Jesus Christ had done with his disciples in the upper room 
on the last evening before his crucifixion. For many years 
stretching back into the nineteenth century, the Brethren had 
gathered on Saturday for this special service. To illustrate, in 
1933 at 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, October 14, "the Bro. and 
Sisters of the Pleasant Grove church met for their annual 
'Love Feast.' Devotional by Bro. H. H. Masters. Br. Fred 
Harrell and Elder J. H. Griffith conducted the examination 
service. There were 33 Sisters & Brethren surrounded the 
tables and carried out the meeting in the usual way." 80 The 
examination service was a significant aspect of the total ex- 
perience, which the Brethren did not take lightly. In 1919, in the 
midst of all of the difficulty of that year, the Brethren had two 
special called council meetings to get things "in shape" for the 
annual fall Love Feast. 

Like most of the Carolina Brethren congregations, the 
number of members in the Pleasant Grove congregation has 
fluctuated considerably during the first two-thirds of the 
twentieth century. From the sixty members recorded in 1902 
the number had increased very slowly to seventy by 1925. 
From that date the membership increased more rapidly in the 
next few years reaching an all-time high of one hundred 
twelve in 1932. During the following year the congregation lost 
thirty-five members, dropping the total membership to 
seventy-seven. That was the low, however, for at least another 
quarter of a century, and by 1951 the membership had again 
gone over a hundred to one hundred three. That figure was 
evidently too high to hold permanently, and by 1960 the 

79. Pleasant Grove congregational council minutes, March 15, 1919; April 19, 1919; 
June 21, 1919; October 1, 1919. 

80. Ibid., October 14, 1933. 


number had fallen to thirty-five. After dropping by fifty-three 
in three years, the number shot up by twenty-four in one year 
to fifty-nine. After reaching sixty-seven in 1964, the mem- 
bership had again fallen off to thirty by 1970. Mrs. Bryant 
summarized the outlook rather pessimistically in 1967: "We 
are decreasing in membership with no prospect of gaining 
members, because as our young people finish high school they 
go to college and then to some other place or town to find 
jobs." 81 After maintaining a significant witness in its com- 
munity during much of the twentieth century, the Pleasant 
Grove Church of the Brethren was finding it increasingly 
difficult to survive in the last one-third of the century. 


As far as the records go, the Bethel congregation in neigh- 
boring Yancey County is virtually unknown today. According 
to the statistical record in the 1902 District Meeting Minutes, 
this congregation had fifty members led by three ministers 
and two deacons. E. Peterson and R. N. Willis from Mitchell 
County visited the Bethel Brethren in October, 1908, and 
Peterson preached on Saturday evening and on Sunday. 
During the visit they conducted a communion at the home of 
an ill sister. One of the local ministers of this congregation was 
Joel Hensley, who visited a Brummetts Creek council meeting 
in 1911. Another minister was John Willis who was the 
presiding elder in 1920 and continued until the disorganization 
of the congregation. The exact date is not clear, but the 
congregation was not listed in the roster at the 1924 District 
Meeting or in the Yearbook of 1925. The district mission board 
reported receiving fifty dollars for the sale of the Bethel 

81. Yearbooks, 192^1971; Mrs. Etta Bryant, Local Church Historical Data," August 
24, 1967. 


church in 1926. 82 Thus ended the quarter of a century or so of 
life of this congregation in mountainous western North 


During the 1890's the Brummetts Creek ministers had 
begun to preach regularly at the Bailey school house some 
three miles west of Relief in Mitchell County. This activity 
continued in the twentieth century under the leadership of the 
Hollow Poplar congregation. For example, in August, 1906 H. 
M. Griffith and A. M. Laughrun held a week of meetings as a 
result of which thirteen were added to the fellowship in the 
Bailey school house community. Evidently, by 1911-1912 the 
group of Brethren had grown sufficiently to merit the 
organization of a new congregation, which took its place at the 
District Meeting of 1912 for the first time. At that time it had 
about thirty-five members. In December of 1912 Joseph H. 
Griffith and H. H. Masters conducted nine days of meetings 
which resulted in seven baptisms. A Sunday School had been 
organized with H. H. Peterson as superintendent and an 
enrollment of fifty-eight. Also, the congregation was building a 
new church to replace the school house which had been used 
for more than fifteen years. 83 Apparently, the young 
congregation was off to an encouraging start. 

J. R. Jackson contributed significantly to the life of the 
Bailey congregation during the 1920's. He conducted at least 
three series of evangelistic meetings in 1921 and in 1926 which 
resulted in at least twenty baptisms and a number reclaimed 
for the church, and he also served as elder of the congregation 
from 1922 to 1930. Among the many ministers who have served 
the Bailey Church of the Brethren since 1930 were Joseph H. 

82. Ibid., 1919 1925; District Meeting Minutes, 1902, 1924, 1926, Gospel Messenger, 
December 12, 1908, page 809; September 23, 1911, page 605. 

83. Gospel Messenger, August 25, 1906, page 540; January 11, 1913, page 29; District 
Meeting Minutes, 1912-1913. 


Griffith, S. S. Bryant, Jonas D. Peterson, R. Vance Tipton, J. 
W. Honeycutt, Carl Welch, Grady Masters, Holt E. Griffith, 
Theodore R. Arrowood, Calvin Barnett, and Lynell Peterson. 84 

Under the combined leadership of the first eight of these 
ministers, the Bailey congregation grew rather steadily to 
forty-five in 1925, to fifty-five in 1930, to sixty-six in 1935, and to 
seventy-seven in 1940. Then in 1945 the membership dropped 
by almost fifty per cent to forty. This re-evaluation of the 
membership roll seemed to serve as a stimulant to the 
congregation and the membership again began to increase, 
reaching sixty in 1950, and an all-time high of seventy-eight in 
1956. In 1957 the membership dropped again to fifty-two, in 
spite of the fact that fourteen people were baptized into the 
congregation that year; thus, the gross loss was forty people or 
fifty per cent. As is true of the Brethren congregations in 
Mitchell County in general, the membership at Bailey con- 
tinued to drop and reached forty-four in 1962 , 85 

In 1962 the Bailey congregation joined three of its neigh- 
bors in withdrawing from the Church of the Brethren to form a 
new denomination known as the Fundamental Brethren. This 
situation had been developing in the district for a number of 
years. As early as 1956 the resolutions committee brought to 
the District Meeting a strongly worded statement on "Unity in 
the Church," which began: "We recognize that there are many 
influences in our world that tend to divide or disunite people. 
There are many philosophies of life and religion. To believe in 
all of these is to invite confusion and division." The statement 
concluded with this resolution: "Therefore, in order to 
promote and maintain unity among our churches, we shall 
strive for the faith of our fathers as interpreted by the Annual 
Conference of the Church of the Brethren." 86 

The District Meeting of 1957 attempted to clarify matters 

84. Ibid., July 23, 1921, page 445; March 13, 1926, page 173; October 9, 1926, page 652; 
Yearbooks, 1920-1963. 

85. Yearbooks, 1920-1963. 

86. District Meeting Minutes, 1956. 


by approving a lengthy statement on what it meant to be a 
congregation in the Church of the Brethren. Included was a 
fine statement on the peace position of the church, which 
recognized the importance of one's conscience as the final 
authority. This action evidently did not settle the matter, and 
in 1959 the District Meeting approved a recommendation from 
the elders body of the district that a committee of five elders 
be appointed to "visit the churches that are not sending 
delegates to the District Conf." and "visit the ministers and 
elders who are not attending District Conf." The 
dissatisfaction of several of the congregations in Mitchell 
County simmered for several years and finally boiled over in 
1962 when four congregations with one hundred forty-one 
members "pulled out of the district and chartered a new 
denomination called the Fundamental Brethren." The leader 
of this movement was Calvin Barnett, who was serving as the 
pastor of all four of the congregations. In addition, a recently 
licensed minister, Joe Brown, went with him. The elders body 
which had carried on the negotiations with these 
congregations concluded "that everything possible was done 
to keep the churches in the district, but our efforts failed." 87 
Perhaps, with this much dissatisfaction among these four 
congregations, it was just as well that their influence was 
removed from the district, although such a small district could 
ill afford to lose four congregations and one hundred forty-one 


The largest of these four congregations that had fallen 
under the influence of militant Fundamentalism by 1963 was 
Pigeon River, located some two and one-half miles north of 
Relief. Matison Griffith organized this congregation in April of 
1912 with Charlie Barnett, Solomon Barnett, and Paul Barnett 

87. Ibid., 1957, 1959, 1962. 


as deacons. In 1914 the Pigeon River Brethren built a church 
on land given by Levi Edwards. Built of wood with a metal 
roof, the church was a comfortable twenty-six by thirty-six 
feet. Seven windows provided ventilation and the single door 
was entered by five wooden steps. The church was heated in 
the winter by a stove located in the center of the church. The 
Sunday School which met in this church was directed by 
Charlie Barnett. 88 

Other ministers of this congregation in addition to Matison 
Griffith included John Willis, J. R. Jackson, R. Vance Tipton, 
J. D. Peterson, S. S. Bryant, Grady Masters, Joseph W. Bar- 
nett, Samuel Griffith, Holt E. Griffith, Lynell Peterson, Calvin 
Barnett, and Joe Brown. Under their leadership, the Pigeon 
River congregation grew rather steadily until 1955 when it had 
an all-time high of eighty-five members. During the following 
year thirty-seven members were removed from the mem- 
bership roll. From forty-eight the number increased to 
seventy-seven in three years, but then dropped back to fifty- 
five in 1962, when the congregation led out in withdrawing 
from the Church of the Brethren. 89 


The third of these dissident congregations was organized 
in 1930 and called Upper Brummetts Creek. It was located 
about one-half mile north of Relief. The congregation began 
with a membership of forty-five under the leadership of R. 
Vance Tipton. Others who contributed to the leadership of 
these Brethren were J. H. Griffith, M. E. Bradshaw, Holt E. 
Griffith, Fred Herrell, Grady Masters, Andrew L. Yelton, 
Calvin Barnett, and Andy Johnson. The membership in- 
creased under their leadership quite steadily for the first 
fifteen years and reached seventy-six in 1945. From that point, 

88. Mrs. George Barnett, "Local Church Historical Data," no date. 

89. Yearbooks, 1920-1963. 


it began to decrease, reaching thirty-eight by 1954. Instead of 
continuing to decrease, the number jumped back to fifty-nine 
by 1958. Then a drastic cut caused by the movement of many of 
the members who wanted to remain loyal to the Church of the 
Brethren to the Lower Brummetts Creek congregation 
reduced the membership to twenty-eight in one year, and that 
is where it stood in 1963. 90 


The fourth and last of these congregations was known as 
Berea, and was the work almost entirely of H. H. Masters. 
Some time around 1930 he began to preach in the Cub Creek 
school house one mile north of Baker sville. In December of 
1930 he held a series of meetings in this school which resulted 
in twelve baptisms. The report added that the Brethren were 
hardly known in this community. After there had been ad- 
ditional baptisms a congregation was organized in 1932 with 
twenty-one charter members, and H. H. Masters as the pastor 
and elder. When the Mitchell County authorities wanted to sell 
the school house in 1937, Masters bought it for the use of the 
Brethren. He continued as the leader of the congregation until 
1950 when he was succeeded by Holt E. Griffith. Calvin Bar- 
nett became the pastor in 1952 and was still serving in that 
position in 1962. The congregation never had more than its 
original twenty-one members, and in 1962 it had fourteen, 
making it the smallest of the four congregations of Fun- 
damental Brethren. It was not able to survive the changed 
status and by 1970 it had closed its doors. 91 

Altogether, the Brethren established eight congregations 
in Mitchell and Yancey counties. By 1968 only three of them 
continued to be related to the Church of the Brethren: 

90. Ibid.; material from Betty Griffith. 

91. Gospel Messenger, January 31, 1931, page 24; Yearbooks, 1933-1963; Virgie M. 
McKinney, "Local Church Historical Data," no date; material from Betty Griffith. 


Brummetts Creek, Petersons Chapel, and Pleasant Grove. One 
had been disorganized in the 1920's and four had withdrawn 
from the Church of the Brethren in 1962. These four took more 
Brethren with them in 1962 than the three remaining 
congregations had in 1970. These three have been declining in 
membership, for in 1962 when the split occurred, they had 
more than the departing four. The future for the Church of the 
Brethren in the Mitchell County area does not seem very 
hopeful in 1970. The economic problems are overwhelming, 
and most of the ambitious youth are leaving the area. Without 
their leadership, it is very difficult to maintain an attractive 
church program, which also encourages them to leave the 
area. Without people, there can be no church. 



The Mill Creek congregation under the leadership of 
George A. Branscom entered the new century with one hun- 
dred forty members in 1902, which was more than twice as 
many as the other congregations in the district except Flat 
Rock with seventy-four and Brummetts Creek with eighty- 
five. To guide the activities of this many Brethren, there were 
two elders, two ministers, and eight deacons, which was also a 
larger number than any other congregation in the district. 92 
Indeed, the future looked promising for the Brethren in the 
Polk County area along the North Carolina-South Carolina 
line, and in fact, this area has become the only area in the state 
to fulfill to a marked degree that promising future. 

The reports for the year 1902 at Mill Creek indicated that 
the congregation had had a year round Sunday School for the 
past several years. At this time, many Brethren congregations 
across the country were attempting to make the transition 

92. District Meeting Minutes, 1902. 


from a Sunday School that met only during the winter months 
to a year-round program. Also, the Mill Creek Brethren were 
using Brethren literature in their Sunday School, which was 
not true of all Brethren congregations. Also, according to this 
report, worship services with preaching were being conducted 
every Sunday morning at the Mill Creek church and every 
Sunday evening at the school house in Melvin Hill, several 
miles south of Mill Creek. As far as the records reveal, these 
were the only places in the district with preaching services 
every Sunday. It may well be that such a program could not be 
maintained with the free ministerial staff in Polk County, for 
the schedule of preaching appointments in the district 
published by the District Meeting of 1903 indicated that Mill 
Creek was having monthly services on the first Sunday of each 
month. 93 

In August of 1902, James M. Neff of Morristown, Ten- 
nessee, held a ten day evangelistic meeting, during which he 
preached in the morning at Mill Creek and in the evening at 
Melvin Hill with good attendance at both places. During the 
spring of 1903 Neff returned to Polk County to work for several 
weeks as a home missionary in the various neighboring 
communities. His itinerary began with the Huntley settlement 
in Rutherford County, where he held fourteen meetings. 
Evidently, his work must have borne some fruit, for a history 
of Mill Creek written in 1960 by Ethel H. Masters mentioned 
the "Huntley Church (now deceased)" as a descendant of Mill 
Creek. However, no further records of this group of Brethren 
have been preserved. From the Huntley settlement, Neff went 
to Forest City, where he sought a home in which to hold 
meetings; after being rebuffed in the first three homes that he 
visited, he was successful in the fourth and ended up suc- 
cessfully reporting a good attendance at his meeting. He then 
traveled to Caroleen, still in Rutherford County, where he was 
permitted to hold services in the Methodist church. Among his 
efforts in this community was the distribution of Brethren 

93. Gospel Messenger, March 8,1902,page 155; District Meeting Minutes, 1903. 


literature at the gate of the cotton mill as the people were 
departing from work. Finally, he held two services in the 
Baptist church in Henrietta, a couple of miles down the road 
from Caroleen. Neff noted in concluding his report that all of 
the members in these scattered communities were members 
of the Mill Creek congregation. 94 Certainly, that congregation 
was maintaining an active Brethren evangelistic program in 
this area of the Carolinas. 

That the Mill Creek congregation was very much in- 
terested in spreading the Gospel as the Brethren understood it 
was demonstrated not only in the work of James M. Neff but 
also in various other reports from these early years of the 
century. For example, at a congregational council in April, 
1903 enough money was raised to ' 'inclose a house of wor- 
ship"; as a result a church was being built at an unidentified 
mission point in Rutherford County, possibly in the Huntley 
settlement. In the late summer of 1904 John C. Woodie con- 
ducted a series of evangelistic meetings at a mission point 
located on the state line between North and South Carolina, 
quite probably in the area that eventually became the 
Brooklyn congregation. The meetings were well attended and 
resulted in four baptisms. These meetings were followed by 
twelve days of meetings in the Mill Creek church which led to 
five people being baptized and one person being reclaimed. In 
the winter of 1905-1906 J. D. Clark and N. N. Garst held 
meetings first at Mill Creek and then moved to the new 
Brooklyn church, which was nearly enough finished that it 
could be used for meetings. 95 

All of these evangelistic activities led to both an increase 
and a proliferation of membership. By 1906 it had become 
desirable to divide the Mill Creek congregation, and in August 
two new congregations were organized: The Melvin Hill 
congregation began at a council meeting on August 8 with 

94. I bid., September 20, 1902, page 606; May 23, 1903, page 333. 

95. Ibid., April 25, 1903, page 269; September 24, 1904, page 621 ; October 22, 1904, page 
685; December 2, 1905, page 773. 


fifty-five members, one elder, one minister, and seven 
deacons. The Brooklyn congregation became the only Church 
of the Brethren in South Carolina at the time of its 
organization on August 9; it had forty-eight members led by 
one elder and five deacons. Unfortunately, the record does not 
reveal the membership and leadership remaining in the Mill 
Creek congregation after the division. 96 Quite likely, the 
remaining Mill Creek membership was in the forties or fifties, 
and the congregation was being divided into three roughly 
equal congregations. In the light of the spread-out nature of 
the congregation and the transportation facilities of the first 
decade of the twentieth century, such a division was a 
desirable step to take. 

The leadership of the Mill Creek congregation has been 
provided by a number of capable ministers, beginning with 
George A. Branscom who served as the elder continuously 
down to 1922. W. A. Reed was the pastor and elder on three 
different occasions: from 1922 to 1924, from 1929 to 1932, and 
from 1937 to 1944. J. K. West provided the leadership from 1924 
to 1929, A. M. Laughrun was the pastor and elder from 1932 to 
1934, and S. Loren Bowman, who was later to spend a number 
of years on the brotherhood staff, because the first 
professionally trained pastor in 1934 and continued for three 
years at Mill Creek. In the 1940's, Fred Dancy served from 1944 
to 1946, followed by Galen Crist from 1946 to 1948 and Calvin C. 
Kurtz from 1948 to 1952. Philip Zinn was the pastor of both 
Pleasant Grove in Mitchell County and Mill Creek in Polk 
County from 1953 to 1955. Bert G. Richardson served for one 
year, after which Kurtz began another four years as pastor of 
the Mill Creek Brethren. Charles F. Rinehart came from 
Tennessee in 1960 to become the Mill Creek pastor, a position 
in which he continued for six years. From 1966 to 1968 Robert 
L. Rowe was the pastor of the congregation. In the fall of 1968 
Vernon Wilkins transferred from New Haven to Mill Creek to 
replace Rowe. Down to the time of Kurtz' arrival in 1948, the 

96. Ibid., August 18, 1906, page 524. 


pastor had also been the elder. In 1948-1949 Grady Masters 
served for one year as elder, after which Kurtz became the 
presiding elder. Then in 1951 the congregation elected its first 
lay moderator, B. E. Hinsdale, Jr., who continued to serve 
through the pastorates of Zinn, Kurtz, Rinehart, and Rowe. In 
1968 Bruce Edwards succeeded Hinsdale as moderator. 97 

In addition to the faithful efforts of these individuals, a 
number of visiting evangelists have contributed to the 
program of the congregation. In August of 1925, H. J. Woodie of 
Winston-Salem was present for a week of meetings. Two years 
later the popular A. M. Laughrun came from Tennessee to 
deliver eighteen messages to a large audience; as a result six 
young people were baptized. In August of 1933 M. Guy West 
held a revival which was followed by the baptism of twelve 
young people and was considered the greatest revival in the 
past twenty-five years at Mill Creek in terms of the number of 
accessions. Melvin C. Shull was the evangelist in August, 1936; 
in the mornings he delivered lectures on the home and family 
life, and in the evening he conducted a revival which led to ten 
baptisms. In 1942, M. G. Wilson held a series of meetings which 
featured a chalk talk on a Bible lesson before the sermon each 
evening. 98 

The Mill Creek Brethren also developed other types of 
programs to encourage the growth of the spiritual life of the 
members. In 1928 the congregation held the first Vacation 
Bible School in this section of the district under the direction of 
F. C. Rohrer, who had introduced this type of activity into the 
Ashe County congregations in 1926. Seventy-five children were 
enrolled in this school in 1928 with an average attendance of 
forty-six. Also, an active young people's organization was 
established in cooperation with the young people from Melvin 
Hill; in September, 1933 under the leadership of Donald 
Gilbert, president, and Lois Home, secretary, these youth held 

97. Yearbooks, 1920-1971; material from Bert G. Richardson. 

98. Gospel Messenger, September 5, 1925, page 576; September 3, 1927, page 573; 
September 23, 1933, page 29; September 12, 1936,page 29; October 3, 1942, page 28. 


an outing, involving a picnic supper and vespers. In 1935 they 
sponsored a leadership training class taught by the pastor, S. 
Loren Bowman. As part of their training, each student was in 
charge of an evening worship service. In 1940 the Mill Creek 
young people presented an inspiring Christmas program of 
carols and scripture. " In many and various ways the children 
and young people were contributing their share to the total life 
of the congregation. 

One of the important events of the early 1960's at Mill 
Creek was the building of a new church. C. C. Kurtz had gotten 
a building fund started while he was the pastor in the 1950's 
and had provided the initial enthusiasm for the project. 
Charles F. Rinehart, the pastor after 1960, provided the final 
push necessary to complete the program in 1962. The church 
was built by a contractor who was a member of the church; he 
was able to save the congregation thousands of dollars on the 
project. The very attractive new church was dedicated in May, 
1962 by a former pastor, S. Loren Bowman. 

The membership records of the Mill Creek congregation 
reveal a rather steady growth during the years of the twen- 
tieth century. There have been a few sharp drops in mem- 
bership but the trend has been clearly in the direction of an 
increase. Although the congregation had one hundred forty 
members in 1902, the division of 1906 had reduced that number 
to about one-third. There followed a long period of leveling off, 
and by 1925 the membership stood at fifty-one. Than the 
membership began to increase steadily and by 1938 it had 
reached eighty-five. Ten years later it was eighty-four, 
although it had reached a high of ninety-seven in 1947. In 1949 
the membership jumped up to one hundred, and although it 
dropped to ninety-five in 1953, it went up to one hundred thirty 
in 1954. From this new high, it fell to one hundred three in 1955, 
indicating some strangely erratic behavior. During the 
pastorate of Charles F. Rinehart from 1960 to 1966 the mem- 

99. Ibid., August 25, 1928, page 548; September 23, 1933, page 29; June 8, 1935, page 27; 
January 18, 1941, page 31. 


bership increased steadily from one hundred sixteen to one 
hundred forty-seven, the all-time high. In 1970 it stood at one 
hundred forty-three, which represented a very considerable 
gain in the forty-five years since 1925. 10 ° Certainly, the 
Brethren of the Mill Creek congregation had prospered 
mightily during the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, 
and the future in 1970 seemed brighter for this group of 
Brethren than for most of the Carolina Churches of the 


The Green River Cove congregation which the Brethren 
organized in the western part of Polk County near Saluda in 
1880 did not flourish but withered on the vine and died. From a 
membership of twenty-one in 1882, the number had fallen 
almost in half to twelve during the next twenty years. The 
membership continued to decline and by 1925 it was seven. The 
original leadership of E. J. Bradley and Samuel Jones con- 
tinued to serve actively well into the twentieth century. Also, 
Joel Sherfy served as pastor for a number of years in the 1910's 
and the 1920's in an effort to revive the congregation. All of 
these elders' efforts were in vain, however, and in the 1930's 
the congregation ceased to exist. In 1938 it was dropped from 
the Yearbook with a final membership of five, and in 1942 it 
was dropped from the roster of congregations in the District 
Meeting Minutes. 101 ' 


The available records for the Brooklyn Church of the 
Brethren across the line in South Carolina are very sketchy 
and do not explain many of the events in that congregation's 
history. It has already been pointed out that the Brethren were 

100. Yearbooks, 1925-1971; material from Bert G. Richardson. 

101. Ibid., 1920-1938. 


baptizing people in this area during the 1890's and that in 1906 a 
congregation was organized with forty-eight charter mem- 
bers, which was about the average size of the congregations in 
the district at that time. 102 Who the elder of the congregation 
at that time was is not clear, but in 1920 Samuel Jones was 
serving in this capacity. In 1922 he was succeeded by George 
A. Branscom, the spiritual father of all of the congregations in 
this area. Evidently, the congregation had been declining 
steadily, for it was dropped from the Yearbook in 1924 and 
from the District Meeting roster in 1925. In 1926 the District 
Meeting heard a report that the Brooklyn church had been sold 
for two hundred dollars. 103 

From the available evidence, one would assume that 
another Carolina congregation had declined steadily until 
there were no members left and then was disorganized as had 
just happened at Green River Cove. However, quite sur- 
prisingly, in 1943, the District Meeting heard another report 
that the Brooklyn congregation had "decided that we sould 
like to be admitted back into the North and South Carolina 
district." Without further comment in the Minutes, the request 
was granted. The Yearbook for 1944 included the Brooklyn 
Church of the Brethren with one hundred thirty-nine members 
and W. A. Reed as elder. 104 

After one year Reed was succeeded by J. F. Davis as 
pastor, although Reed continued as elder until 1952. By 1946 the 
membership had dropped sharply from one hundred thirty-six 
to eighty and then two years later it was down to sixty. 
Although the membership rose again to seventy-three in 1953, 
it then began to decline and reached a low of fifty-three in 1957. 
During the 1950's and early 1960's the congregation was served 
by several student ministers from the Fundamentalist school, 
Bob Jones University, at Greenville, South Carolina, including 
Gene Fisher, Roland Rasmussen, and James McCoy. In ad- 

102. See above, page 117, pages 184-185. 

103. Yearbooks, 1920 1924; District Meeting Minutes, 1925-1926. 

104. Ibid., 1944; District Meeting Minutes, 1943. 


dition, at least two Brethren ministers from other 
congregations, Holt E. Griffith and Andrew Yelton, served as 
pastor or elder of the Brooklyn congregation. Evidently, the 
Brooklyn Brethren were being strongly influenced by the 
ideas of Fundamentalism during the 1950's and this 
congregation should be included with the four dissatisfied 
congregations in the Mitchell County area; in 1962 when they 
withdrew from the district to incorporate a new church, the 
Brooklyn congregation also withdrew to go its own separate 
way. According to the report of the elders body: "Also, 
through friendly negotiations, the Brooklyn church was 
released. To be removed from the district was the desire of the 
members of the Brooklyn Church as 18 members signed a 
petition to withdraw from the district and there were no 
signatures to remain in the district." The 1963 Yearbook which 
recorded the withdrawal noted a loss of fifty-three members in 
this transaction, indicating the possibility that a minority of 
the membership had taken the congregation out of the district. 
Of course, on the other hand there may not have been more 
than eighteen active members remaining by 1962. 105 At any 
rate, this action completed the loss of five congregations with 
nearly two hundred members in one year, representing one- 
fifth of the congregations and one-sixth of the membership. 


In contrast to the failures of the Green River Cove and 
Brooklyn Churches of the Brethren, the Melvin Hill 
congregation has generally been the strongest Church of the 
Brethren in the district since its organization in 1906. Under 
the leadership of George A. Branscom it grew during its first 
twenty years from fifty-five members to one hundred thirty- 
five members in 1925, which made it the only congregation in 
the district with more than one hundred members. This 

105. Ibid., 1945-1963; District Meeting Minutes, 1962. 


growth was made possible primarily by a concentrated 
program of evangelistic meetings. Among the evangelists who 
visited Melvin Hill during these years were J. V. Felthouse 
from Elkhart, Indiana in 1902, James M. Neff in 1903, J. C. 
Woodie in 1904, Henry Sheets, S. M. Laughrun, and A. M. 
Laughrun in 1905, W. A. Reed in 1909, J. V. Felthouse again in 
1915, S. A. Honberger in 1917, R. G. Edwards and Clayton B. 
Miller in 1918, and R. G. Edwards again in 1922. 106 Perhaps the 
meetings by W. A. Reed in 1909 were especially noteworthy 
because as a result twenty-nine people were baptized and six 
were reclaimed. Also, a number of these evangelists held 
meetings at the Mill Creek church, at the Brooklyn church, and 
at other outposts of the congregation in the surrounding 

Another development which contributed to the growth of 
the Melvin Hill congregation during these twenty years was 
the building of a church. The earliest Brethren meetings in the 
Melvin Hill community were held in a school house which had 
been built by George A. Branscom, who also hired the teacher. 
One of the early teachers was Samuel Jones, who also made a 
significant contribution as a Brethren elder. When the school 
house was built and when Branscom began to preach in it 
cannot be determined from the available records, but it must 
have been around the turn of the century. By the end of the 
first decade of the new century, the school house was no longer 
adequate for the needs of the growing congregation and work 
was begun on a church, which was completed in 1914. 107 

One of the interesting problems of this era which 
demonstrated the transitional nature of the Church of the 
Brethren in the 1920's was the desire on the part of some 
Brethren to introduce musical instruments into the churches. 
In 1921 the question was raised at Melvin Hill. "A heated 
discussion took place with the vote saying no instruments." 

106. Gospel Messenger, May 17, 1902, page 316; January 3, 1903, page 12; October 22, 
1904, page 685; March 18, 1905, page 176; October 16, 1909, page 669; October 23, 1915, page 
688; November 3, 1917, page 700; September 21, 1918, page 605; March 4, 1922, page 141. 

107. "History of the Melvin Hill Church of the Brethren," 1965, page 3. 


The matter was taken to the floor of the District Meeting: 
"The Melvin Hill congregation asks the District Meeting of 
1921 whether it is right for a congregation to introduce the 
organ into the church where it disturbs the peace of the 
congregation.". The District Meeting answered that "it is not 
right, according to the Decision of Annual Conference of 1920, 
page 12, Art. 3, 'Musical Instruments in Churches.' " Of course, 
this decision did not put the matter to rest permanently and 
the agitation continued. Five years later in 1926, the Melvin 
Hill congregation again asked the District Meeting for a 
"ruling in regard to the use of musical instruments in church 
worship." No new Annual Conference decisions had changed 
the picture, but other pressures were obviously at work. This 
time the District Meeting spelled out its answer and the 
supporting reasoning in more detail: "We regard it un- 
scriptural, without precept or example by Christ, the apostles, 
and the early church, and that it is detrimental to 
congregational singing and often leads to levity and is often 
used for entertainment; therefore, we advise our churches not 
to use them and decide that A. M. Minutes must be observed in 
regard to musical instruments." 

The District Meeting decision on musical instruments 
should have quieted the issue for quite a time to come, but 
when there are persistent agitators for change, change is 
almost inevitable sooner or later. In this case it was sooner, for 
only two years later in 1928 "an organ was brought in [to the 
Melvin Hill church] and a vote kept it in." This action must 
have been one of those which caused the congregational 
historians to write in 1965: "According to the living charter 
members, no political campaigns in the Melvin Hill 
congregation ever got more colorful than some of those early 
voting campaigns. Issues were heatedly discussed, almost 
came to blows at times, and members went out to get votes any 
way they could." 

Not only was the action concerning an organ heatedly 
discussed in the local congregation before a decision was 


made, but the elders of the district also were upset enough that 
they brought a strong recommendation to the floor of the 
District Meeting of 1930: 

Inasmuch as Annual Meeting has advised that churches 
do not use musical instruments where they disturb the peace 
of the congregation (Revised Minutes of A. M., p. 160) , and our 
District says it is not right (District Minutes, 1921), and our 
District Meeting says, "We advise our churches not to use 
them," and decide that A. M. Minutes must be observed in 
regard to musical instruments (See District Meeting Minutes, 

Therefore, we, the elders of North and South Carolina 
District of the Church of the Brethren, in session at New Haven 
church, Aug. 21-24, 1930, decide that Melvin Hill church had no 
right to put an organ in their church, and that they must take it 
out. We refer this decision to the delegates of this conference 
for confirmation. 

In one of those very rare instances in which the delegates at a 
North and South Carolina District Meeting rejected the 
recommendation of the elders of the church, "After a lengthy 
discussion this paper was rejected." 108 As far as the records 
go, this decision settled the matter in the Melvin Hill 
congregation and in the district as a whole, although other 
individual congregations were still permitted to make their 
own decisions regarding musical instruments. 

During the first twenty years of its development as an 
independent congregation, Melvin Hill carried out quite a 
variety of programs to encourage the spiritual growth of its 
members. In addition to the numerous evangelistic meetings, 
the Brethren held special Thanksgiving services in 1913 at the 
recommendation of the District Meeting. W. A. Reed gave a 
message based on the fifth chapter of First Thessalonians a 
number of hymns were sung (without an organ by the way), 
and an offering of thirteen dollars was collected for missions ; 
in addition Etta Branscom solicited ten dollars and thirty 

108. Ibid., pages 2-3, District Meeting Minutes, 1921, 1926,1930. 


cents for Mary Waters, a blind and ill sister at Golden who had 
no money with which to pay her doctor. In July of 1916 the 
Sunday School sponsored an all-day children's day program 
which included recitations by the children and young people in 
the morning, a picnic lunch on the grounds, and several talks 
by the adults in the afternoon. One of the most significant 
annual events was the Love Feast in the fall of the year, which 
was preceded by the yearly visit by the deacons to all of the 
members to discover whether they were still in peace and 
harmony with the church. Then a congregational council was 
held to hear the report of the visit and to prepare for the Love 
Feast. On October 29, 1915 some seventy Brethren, which was 
considered a large attendance, gathered for the second Love 
Feast in the new church under the guidance of George A. 
Branscom, assisted by W. A. Reed and Samuel Jones. 109 

In addition to such special events, the Melvin Hill Brethren 
engaged in various Christian education programs. During the 
winter of 1917-1918, a group engaged in a mission class using 
the book Christian Heroism in Heathen Lands by Galen B. 
Royer as a study guide. During the following winter of 1918- 
1919 the world wide influenza epidemic closed the church's 
doors for a time in an effort to keep people from gathering 
together; in fact, five young people in the Melvin Hill com- 
munity died from the flu. In September of 1919 Laura Gwin 
Swadley visited Melvin Hill under the direction of the General 
Sunday School Board to encourage the development of a more 
comprehensive Sunday School program. As a result a home 
department, a cradle roll, and a teacher training class were 
organized. During that winter Clayton B. Miller conducted a 
Bible School for several weeks which included two sessions 
each day. Also, I. J. Rosenberger, one of the best-known 
evangelists in the church, stopped at Melvin Hill to preach 
three sermons before continuing his journey to Florida. 110 

109. Gospel Messenger, December 13, 1913, page 799; August 12, 1916, page 524; 
November 13, 1915, pages 733, 736. 

110. Ibid., December 22, 1917, page 824; May 3, 1919,page 285; September 27, 1919,page 
620; December 27, 1919,page 829; February 14, 1920,page 112. 


Another individual who contributed significantly to the 
leadership of the Melvin Hill congregation in addition to 
George A. Branscom was W. A. Reed, who served as elder on 
several different occasions, most recently in 1948-1949. The 
congregational historians summarized his contribution when 
they wrote, that he "came and went and worked as fill-in 
pastor." Indeed, he contributed to the life of most of the 
Carolina congregations and also worked for a time outside of 
the district. Other individuals of this type who served as elder 
of the congregation included J. K. West, A. M. Laughrun, and 
S. I. Driver from Lima, Ohio, who wintered in this community 
because of his health. 

In 1934 the congregation took a significant step in securing 
S. Loren Bowman jointly with Mill Creek as the first 
professionally trained pastor in the congregation's history. 
After his resignation in 1937 the congregation went back to the 
system of non-salaried ministers for several years until 1943 
when Fred Dancy spent one year in the community. After two 
more years without a regular pastor, Galen Crist arrived in 
1946 and remained for two years. He was succeeded in 1948 by 
Calvin C. Kurtz, who served as pastor until 1952, when Earl 
Dietz replaced him. After three years, Bert G. Richardson, 
who lived in the Ashe County area of the district one hundred 
fifty miles away served for three years as an interim pastor. 
Then in 1958 Andrew Yelton who had been the elder since 1952 
agreed to fill another interim pastorate for the congregation. 
In 1960 Charles F. Rinehart was secured as the joint pastor of 
the Melvin Hill and Mill Creek congregations. He continued as 
the pastor at Melvin Hill for ten years until 1970. Since 1959 the 
Melvin Hill congregation has had lay moderators as presiding 
officers, including Jack Scruggs, Henry Wyant, Buford 
Johnson, and Wayne Huntley. 111 Each of these individuals 
helped to continue the work begun by George A. Branscom in 
the Polk County area of North Carolina. 

111. Yearbooks, 1920-1971; "History of the Melvin Hill Church of the Brethren," pages 


During the years since 1925 Melvin Hill has profited from 
the efforts of many evangelists, who contributed significantly 
to the growth of the congregation. In 1927 Harper Snavely from 
Shamokin, Pennsylvania preached twelve sermons and 
baptized five, and in 1928 L. A. Bowman from Boones Mill, 
Virginia preached nineteen sermons to an overflow crowd. 
Even though the church held four hundred, there were many 
who could not get in; as a result nineteen were baptized and 
six were reclaimed, and the congregation was generally 
strengthened and revived. H. W. Peters from Leaksville, 
North Carolina, who was the pastor of the Spray congregation 
in the Southern Virginia district, was the evangelist in 1929, 
and in 1930 A.M. Laughrun conducted the meetings. In 1931 E. 
C. Woodie packed the house again through fifteen sermons, 
which led to twenty-six baptisms; it was considered one of the 
most successful meetings in Melvin Hill's history. For the first 
time in its history the membership went over two hundred. 
The next year J. W. Rogers from Sebring, Florida filled the 
church again for two weeks and twelve were baptized. In 1933 
M. Guy West conducted the annual revival, and in 1934 I. S. 
Long preached to large crowds for most of two weeks. After a 
gap in the records, the evangelist in 1941 was M. J. Wilson of 
Clover dale, Virginia, and in 1942 M. Guy West returned for 
another series of meetings. F. C. Rohrer, who had lived in the 
district in the 1920's, was the evangelist in 1945. More recently, 
in the 1960's, S. Earl Mitchell, B. J. Wampler, Roland Wine, 
Donad Rowe, Carl Myers, and Samuel Harley have visited 
Melvin Hill for evangelistic meetings. 112 Even though the 
record is incomplete, it nonetheless represents a remarkable 
achievement for this congregation on the Southern frontier. 

One of the challenges accepted by the Melvin Hill 
Brethren was to provide adequate facilities for a growing 

112. Gospel Messenger, October 29, 1927, page 701; September 29, 1928, page 625; Oc- 
tober 26, 1929, page 685; December 6, 1930, page 792; September 19, 1931, page 25; October 
29, 1932, page 24; July 1, 1933, page 25; September 15, 1934, page 28; October 11, 1941, page 
27; November 7, 1942, page 35; October 13, 1945, page 31; April 1, 1961, page 29; May 16, 
1964,page29; January 6, 1962, page 31; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


congregation and an expanding program. For example, in 
August of 1934 the men of the congregation joined together to 
paint the church. The possibility of securing a professional 
pastor was enhanced in the early 1940's by the building of a 
parsonage on land given by Dr. W. T. Head. This parsonage 
was replaced with a more up-to-date house in 1960, which was 
dedicated on September 4 and enjoyed by the Charles F. 
Rinehart family. In 1945 the men made significant im- 
provements in the church including the installation of a new 
heating system and of sidewalks in front of the church. During 
the pastorate of Earl Dietz in the 1950's, the church was 
completely remodeled, and a kitchen, referred to as the 
community building, was added. On March 29, 1953 the newly 
remodeled church was dedicated by Ora DeLauter, the 
executive secretary of the Southeast Region. Again in 1961 a 
remodeling of the church provided four additional classrooms, 
which contributed significantly to the Christian education 
program. The following year further remodeling improved the 
community building and also a new heating system was in- 
stalled. Most recently, in 1964 a major remodeling project at a 
cost of twenty thousand dollars provided an enlarged sanc- 
tuary which will seat two hundred seventy-five, a baptistry, an 
enlarged foyer, two more classrooms, and adequate toilet 
facilities. 113 Thus, through these steps the Melvin Hill 
congregation had provided a relatively modern and com- 
fortable church for its members and a parsonage for its 

In terms of its stewardship of property and possessions the 
Brethren at Melvin Hill certainly developed a commendable 
program. The District Meeting Minutes reveal that the Melvin 
Hill congregation was consistently providing more of the 
district receipts than any other congregation during the first 
two-thirds of the twentieth century. As early as 1932 the 

113. Ibid. /September 15, 1934, page 28; February 27, 1943, page 28; April 1,1961, page 29; 
October 13,1945,page 31; November 29, 1952, page 32; February 28, 1953, page 32; January 
6, 1962, page 31; "History of the Melvin Hill Church of the Brethren," pages 6-7. 


congregation adopted a budget to arrange better its own 
financial affairs, and in 1938 the first every member canvass 
was conducted at Melvin Hill. During the Second World War it 
was reported that the Brethren were supporting the Civilian 
Public Service program established by the three historic 
peace churches; offerings were being taken regularly for this 
purpose and also at least three boys from this congregation 
went into CPS. In addition, generous grants have been made to 
the foreign mission program of the denomination throughout 
the history of the Brethren at Melvin Hill. For example, ac- 
cording to the most recent statistics in 1970, the congregation 
was giving $4,294 for the various outreach programs of the 
church, including the General Brotherhood Fund, the district, 
and the college, out of a total giving for the year of $12,361, 
which was a per capita giving of $101. 32.. 114 

During the 1960's under the leadership of Charles F. 
Rinehart, the Melvin Hill congregation continued to develop an 
enthusiastic church program. The youth of the congregation 
who were now known as the CBYF (Church of the Brethren 
Youth Fellowship) were meeting every Sunday evening and 
had conducted the every member canvass to raise funds for 
the construction of a camp for the district. At Christmastime 
in 1963 the youth gave a play, "No room in the Hotel," directed 
by Vergie Mclntyre. An active Boy Scout troop was being 
sponsored by the congregation for the boys of the community. 
The Sunday School included seven classes and a nursery, and 
in fact, a program for pre-school children was being main- 
tained during the morning worship hour. During the summer a 
vacation Bible school program was maintained, which had an 
average attendance of forty-two in 1961. Also, during the 
summer the congregation sent more campers to church 
summer camp than any other congregation in the district; in 
1961 sixteen attended from Melvin Hill. The pastor directed 
the youth camp at Camp Carolina that summer and par- 

114. Ibid., February 27, 1943, page 28; "History of the Melvin Hill Church of the 
Brethren," page 6; Yearbook, 1971. 


ticipated regularly in the summer camping program of the 

In January of 1961, the congregation studied the outline, 
"A Look at Ourselves," and set up a five year plan for their 
own development as Christians. Bert G. Richardson was 
present to challenge the Brethren in setting up and achieving 
goals. During the following winter the congregation entered an 
experimental program in family education, thus indicating 
again its willingness to try new ideas. Finally, one of the most 
significant things the Melvin Hill Brethren were doing during 
these years was encouraging the beginning of a new Brethren 
fellowship in Spartanburg, South Carolina; this en- 
couragement included providing some of the members and 
also sharing the pastoral leadership of Charles F. Rinehart, 
who was leading out in the development of this new 
fellowship. m This story will be told later in this chapter. 

The membership record reflects all of the activity of the 
Brethren in Polk County because for most of the twentieth 
century the Melvin Hill congregation has been the largest in 
the district. However, it also reflects the sharp jumps both up 
and down that have been the pattern in most of the 
congregations in the district. A big evangelistic push causes 
the membership to jump ahead and a paring of the inactive 
membership a few years later causes a sharp drop in the 
membership. From a membership of one hundred thirty-five 
in 1925, the congregation climbed to an all-time high of two 
hundred sixty-one in 1937. The following year forty-seven 
members were lost, bringing the membership down to two 
hundred fourteen. It increased again to two hundred forty-four 
in 1944, but in 1948 it took a catastrophic drop of one hundred 
twelve members down to one hundred twenty-seven. That 
decrease in membership dropped it from first rank in mem- 
bership to third in the district. After reaching a low of one 
hundred eight in 1950, the membership again increased to one 

115. Ibid., April 1, 1961, page 29; January 6, 1962, page 31; May 16, 1964, page 29; 
"History of the Melvin Hill Church of the Brethren," pages 1,5. 


hundred seventy in 1957. Then in 1962 it took another sharp 
drop of forty-eight down to one hundred fifteen. Since then it 
has remained more stable and stood at one hundred twenty- 
two in 1970, which ranked it third in the district behind Mill 
Creek and Little Pine. 116 

Taken altogether, the story of the Melvin Hill Church of 
the Brethren represents a significant record of ac- 
complishment in ministering to the spiritual needs of the 
people along the North and South Carolina line. Writing a 
history of Polk County in 1950, Sadie Smathers Patton con- 
cluded that their "religious teachings have contributed a 
strong element to the citizenry of that section, where the 
Church of the Brethren, -commonly known as the Dunkers, - 
has a large membership." 117 


Life is composed of successes and failures, and in the 
history of the Church of the Brethren the story is filled with 
successes and failures. In contrast to the remarkable 
achievements of the Brethren in Polk County, many of the 
ventures which they tried in surrounding counties have been 
marked by failure. Three of those need to be described briefly 
at this point. During the first decade of the twentieth century, a 
man named Leander Smith, who may have been a medical 
doctor according to some of the records, was ordained as a 
Brethren elder. His center of operations was further east from 
Mill Creek and Melvin Hill in Rutherford, Cleveland, or Gaston 
County. For a time at least, his address was Gastonia, a large 
city in Gaston County. By 1908 the Downs Chapel congregation 
had been organized near Chestnut, North Carolina (which is no 
longer identified on the road map) , for during April and May of 
that year a congregational council meeting, a Love Feast, and 

116. Yearbooks, 1925-1971. 

117. Sadie Smathers Patton, Sketches of Polk County History (Asheville: The Miller 
PrintingCompany, 1950), pages 86-88. 


a baptizing had been held in that area. Furthermore, in the fall 
of 1908 E. Lee Smith was chosen and installed as a minister. 
During the winter of 1909-1910 Leander Smith held a week of 
meetings during which he preached fourteen sermons, three of 
which were funerals. Seven people were baptized as the result. 
Also, during the week he delivered a temperance lecture in the 
local Methodist church to an estimated audience of six hun- 
dred. In spite of all of this activity, the Downs Chapel 
congregation was never included in the roster of 
congregations at the District Meeting, and it dropped out of the 
picture after a very few years. It was evidently the work of one 
man whose departure brought an end to the project. 118 


The second of those congregations which the Polk County 
Brethren helped to get started, but in which eventually the 
flame of life died out, was the Golden congregation located 
some eighteen miles northeast of Rutherfordton in what was 
known as the Golden Valley. It all began when several 
Brethren families including the W. A. Reeds from the Ashe 
County area camped in the Golden Valley on their way to the 
District Meeting of 1906 at the Mill Creek church. As Ethel H. 
Masters described the event: "They talked to the people 
around there and told who they were and where they were 
going. So the people invited them to stop with them on their 
way back and preach for them. From this beginning the 
Golden Church was organized." These Brethren of sixty years 
ago certainly witnessed to the Gospel as they understood it 
wherever they went and to whomever they met. 

At any rate considerable interest was aroused in the 
Golden Valley and on May 20, 1907 a new congregation was 
organized with some eighteen charter members, about one- 

118. Gospel Messenger, April 18, 1908, page 253; June 13, 1908, page 380; October 24,1908, 
page 685; January 15, 1910, page 45. 


third of whom were members of the Smawley family. This 
family provided the core of the leadership, too, as demon- 
strated by the fact that the first three deacons were Joe 
Smawley, Charles Smawley, and Joe Francis Smawley. W. A. 
Reed was so encouraged by the prospects in the area that in 
1908 he moved into the community to become the pastor and 
elder. In addition, George A. Branscom, J. R. Jackson, J. K. 
West, Andrew Yelton, L. G. Ware, and Bert G. Richardson 
have served as pastor and-or elder of the congregation. 
Members of the Yelton and West families were among the 
charter members at Golden. 

Even though the members erected a church with their own 
hands shortly after the congregation was organized and even 
though they established a Sunday School in 1908 under the 
leadership of Sarah Lee Smawley, the congregation never 
increased very much in membership. For several decades the 
membership held steady in the twenties, reaching a peak of 
twenty-nine in the middle 1930's. Then the economic changes 
of the post- World War II period began to take their toll, and in 
1951 the membership dropped by seven to sixteen. However, 
Rosa Smawley refused to allow the congregation to die, and it 
was not until after her death that the congregation was 
disorganized in 1965 by the district. 119 Even though the active 
witness of the Brethren in this community had ended, who is to 
say that the more than half a century of effort expended was 
not worthwhile. 


For a brief period of time about 1910 the Brethren had an 
organized congregation in the Laurens, South Carolina area. 
Marion Prather moved to this community about 1905-1906 and 
began to do some preaching He was joined by William R. 
Lewis during 1906. Evidently, no Brethren were living in the 

119. Rosa Smawley, "Historical Data," May 8, 1958; Ethel H. Masters, "Brethren in the 
Polk Area," 1960,page2; Yearbooks, 1920- 1966; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


area and these men were trying to get something started in an 
entirely new field. These efforts apparently were crowned 
with some success, for in March, 1907 George A. Branscom 
visited the Brethren and organized a congregation with 
Marion Prather as elder and William A. Dickens as deacon. 
Also, a Sunday School was organized and preaching services 
were scheduled for twice a month. In May of 1909 it was 
recorded that Marion Prather baptized several people in the 
Enoree River near his home about twelve miles north of 
Laurens. Although the Laurens congregation was listed in the 
roster of congregations in the District Meeting Minutes in 1911, 
it was dropped in 1912. Probably, the Prathers had moved 
away from this community and without their leadership, the 
congregation simply withered on the vine. 120 


Another Brethren congregation that was organized during 
the same period of time as Downs Chapel, Golden, and Laurens 
was Mountain Creek, but this congregation survived the 
problems of population mobility by moving its center of 
operation along with the people. During 1909 W. A. Reed began 
to preach in the home of W. M. Jackson near Hollis, North 
Carolina in Rutherford County. In June of that year Reed and 
Samuel Jones spent a week in the community and baptized two 
women, Lydia E. Jackson and Mary West. Reed returned late 
in August and continued preaching until he had secured six- 
teen additional converts; with eighteen charter members he 
organized them into the Mountain Creek congregation on 
September 27, 1909. W. M. Jackson and J. K. West were elected 
to the ministry, F. M. Ledford and W. K. Black became 
deacons, W. A. Jackson served as the clerk, and E. K. West 
became the first treasurer. The new congregation was filled 

120. Gospel Messenger, February 9, 1907, page 92; April 6, 1907, page 221 ; June 5, 1909, 
page 365; District Meeting Minutes, 1911-1912. 


with enthusiasm and began to grow; by February of 1910 there 
were thirty-nine members including three ministers and three 
deacons. The Brethren held their Sunday School and worship 
services in the Tadpole school house. One of the young men 
who became a member during these early years was J. R. 
Jackson, the son of W. J. Jackson, who was baptized in 
November of 1911. Two years later he was called to the 
ministry, and since 1913 he has contributed more than fifty 
years to the Church of the Brethren, most of it in North 
Carolina. 121 


In the years following World War I many of the people 
moved out of the rural area around Mountain Creek to the 
neighboring town of Spindale, about fifteen miles to the south- 
west. In 1924 the District Meeting heard and granted a request 
4 'to change the name of our church to Spindale Church on 
account of members all having moved into or near the town of 
Spindale." The membership of the congregation by that time 
had reached seventy-five. By 1931 it had almost doubled to 
one-hundred forty-eight, but some of this must have been dead 
wood, for the next year the membership was cut to one hun- 
dred seven. However, the congregation was strong enough to 
recover, and the membership climbed steadily for the next ten 
years, reaching an all-time high of one hundred eighty-three in 
1940. In 1944 another big cut reduced the number to one hun- 
dred twenty-seven. Following the usual up and down pattern in 
the district, the membership rose again to one hundred fifty- 
one in 1949, and then fell in two years to one hundred two. After 
recovering somewhat to one hundred twenty-two in 1956, the 
membership declined steadily for seven years to the starting 

121. Ibid., October 16, 1909, page 669; February 12, 1910, page 109; Lucille Gilbert, 
"Spindale History," March 7,1962; J. R. Jackson, "Spindale History," March 2, 1962; Bert 
G. Richardson, "Spindale Notes," no date. 


point of seventy-five in 1963. By 1970 it was climbing again and 
reached ninety-nine. 122 

A number of ministers served as pastor and-or elder in the 
nearly half a century following 1924. Some of them were from 
the local congregation including W. M. Jackson, J. R. Jackson, 
J. K. West, L. B. West, L. G. Ware, Willie H. Gilbert, and S. 
LaVerne Hinson. Others included George A. Branscom, 
Clayton B. Miller, W. A. Reed, E. A. May, Andrew Yelton, 
Bristoe Osborne, Roy I. White, Earl Dietz, Charles F. Rinehart, 
Russell K. Sho waiter, Bert G. Richardson, and Buford John- 
son. 123 In 1970 Charles F. Rinehart became the full-time 
pastor of the Spindale congregation after serving for fifteen 
months in a yoked parish including Melvin Hill, Spartanburg, 
and Spindale. Each of these individuals did his share to 
maintain an active and helpful program for the Brethren in 
the Spindale area. 

When the Brethren first began to hold services in Spindale, 
they met in the Union church, which was later known as the 
Methodist church. Then Kenneth Tanner, the superintendent 
of the stone cutter mills, gave the Brethren the church that had 
been used by the colored people of the town. This building was 
used from 1923 to 1948, after which the Brethren purchased a 
lot in the West Wood section and erected a brick church with 
Sunday School classrooms in the basement. Early in 1953 J. R. 
Jackson dedicated the new church and held a week of 
evangelistic meetings in the new church. By 1956 the debt had 
been paid on the building, and the Brethren were busily 
engaged in landscaping the grounds and in laying 
sidewalks. 124 The seed which was sown in the first decade of 
the century had indeed borne much fruit through the Spindale 
Church of the Brethren. 

122. District Meeting Minutes, 1924. The Minutes incorrectly stated that the Hollow 
Poplar congregation waschanging its name to Spindale. Yearbooks, 1925-1971. 

123. Yearbooks, 1920-1971. 

124. Lucille Gilbert, "Spindale History," March 7, 1962; Gospel Messenger, March 21, 
1953, page 32; August 18, 1956, page 31. 



In addition to Spindale and others, W. A. Reed was also 
largely responsible for the organization of the Travelers Rest 
congregation in that community in South Carolina, which has 
been the only Brethren congregation in that state since the 
withdrawal of the Brooklyn congregation. Some time in the 
late 1930's Reed began to preach in this area, and one of the 
families which was attracted to his preaching was the Silvers 
family. In 1938 the congregation was admitted to the district 
with a charter membership of thirty-six with Reed as pastor 
and elder. 125 

Reed was able to develop some local leadership for the 
congregation. J. N. Batson served in different capacities as 
pastor, elder, and moderator over a period of twenty-five 
years. Lynell Peterson, who as a young song leader and 
Sunday School Superintendent was drafted into Civilian Public 
Service in 1944, came home to serve as pastor and elder on 
several different occasions in the 1940's and the 1950's. In the 
1960's James G. Silvers served as pastor and A. Z. Silvers as 
moderator.In 1970 James G. Silvers was the pastor and Stan- 
ley Gilbert was the moderator. In addition to these capable 
individuals, some of the ministers from other area congrega- 
tions also contributed to the leadership of the congregation, 
including J. K. West, Andrew Yelton, J. R.Jackson, B. F.Long, 
Calvin Barnett, Holt E. Griffith, and Charles F. Rinehart. 126 

The program of the Travelers Rest congregation was 
evangelistic and included revival meetings by Reed and E. A. 
May in 1944, by Earl Hughes of Tennessee in 1946, by B. F. 
Long in 1951, and by I. D. Leatherman in 1953 to name a few. 
The visit by Hughes was particularly interesting; he 
organized a junior choir which grew in number from four to 
forty, and at the end of the week he baptized seventeen of the 
boys and girls. 

One of the significant recent events in the life of this 

125. District Meeting Minutes, 1938; Yearbook, 1939. 

126. Yearbooks.; 1938-1971. 


congregation was the relocation of the church. It was located 
on a very small lot in the city with no possibility of securing 
additional land for expansion or for off street parking. Con- 
sequently, the decision was made to move the church some 
five miles to a larger site on a hill overlooking the city, near 
the church cemetery and near the home of A. Z. Silvers. In the 
process the church was remodeled and redecorated. 127 

The membership roster of this congregation took the big 
jumps which characterized most of the Carolina 
congregations. Beginning with thirty-six in 1938, the mem- 
bership grew steadily to sixty-three by 1944, then dropped back 
to forty-five for several years, and then took a big jump to one 
hundred in 1949. After reaching an all-time high of one hun- 
dred six in 1950, a drastic cut in 1952 reduced the membership 
to forty-five. Then it held steady in the forties for several 
years, but by 1962 it had again been cut in half to an all-time 
low of twenty-three. After hovering at this level for several 
years with the possibility of going either further down toward 
disintegration or of increasing with greater hope for the 
future, the membership began to rise and reached forty-eight 
in 1970. 128 Hopefully, this increase indicated that there was a 
future for this lonely Brethren congregation in South Carolina. 


At the same time that the district of North and South 
Carolina was losing five congregations by withdrawal in 1962 it 
was also gaining several new fellowships. One of these at Mt. 
Airy has already been discussed. Two others were developing 
in Statesville, North Carolina and in Spartanburg, South 
Carolina. The District Meeting of 1962 heard items in the 
district board report and in the executive secretary's report 

127. Gospel Messenger, September 23, 1944, page 31; December 7, 1946, page 31; 
January 12, 1952, page 31; April 12, 1953, pages 31-32; material from Bert G. Richardson. 

128. Yearbooks, 1939-1971. 


that both had been working closely with the new fellowship 
that was being established in Statesville. Robert L. Hill of 
Terrell was identified in the 1963 Yearbook as the non-salaried 
pastor of this fellowship which included a total of twenty-five 
members of the Church of the Brethren. Bert G. Richardson, 
the district executive secretary, was serving as moderator. 129 

During 1963 the Statesville fellowship moved its center of 
operations to a better location in a vacant store building on 7th 
Street, and the district board agreed to provide ten dollars per 
month to assist with the rent. Then in 1967 the fellowship 
decided to purchase a church from the Latter Day Saints 
located on Fifth Street for ten thousand dollars. Again the 
district board agreed to assist in making the down payment on 
the building, although the local group was to be responsible for 
the monthly payments. This decision was never con- 
summated, however, for during 1968 the Statesville fellowship 
encountered serious difficulties, which led to the discon- 
tinuation of the group. 130 


The Spartanburg fellowship in South Carolina developed 
out of the presence in that community of some of the members 
of the Melvin Hill congregation, including the Wyant family. 
In February of 1963 Charles F. Rinehart, Melvin Hill pastor, 
and Bert G. Richardson, district executive secretary, held a 
meeting in the YMCA with twelve local Brethren present from 
the Wyant, Hannon, and Andrews families. Henry C. Wyant 
was elected moderator of the group, Kenneth Hannon became 
treasurer, and Charles F. Rinehart agreed to serve as the 
pastor. Later that year, John W. Glick, a student at 
Bridgewater College, spent the summer in the community as a 
summer pastor. During the school year of 1963-1964 Rinehart 

129. Ibid., 1963; District Conference Minutes, 1962. 

130. Ibid., 1964 1970; District Conference Minutes, 1963-1968. 


conducted services every Sunday afternoon at the Seventh 
Day Adventist Church. Again in the summer of 1964, Elvin 
Hess, also a Bridgewater College student, served as a summer 
pastor. Then in the fall of 1964 Russell K. Showalter came to 
Spartanburg on a short-term basis and remained until the 
following May. Rinehart again accepted the responsibility for 
leading the small group of Brethren. Without his faithful 
service, the group would almost certainly have given up the 
attempt to get a fellowship started. 

Eventually, the fellowship which was formally recognized 
on September 1, 1963 moved its center of operations to the 
Sloan's Grove Baptist Church, but it purchased three acres of 
land in 1965 in the Pierce Acres community for $8,250 on which 
to build a church. A down payment of $1250 was made by the 
district and the remainder was borrowed from the General 
Brotherhood Board, to be paid back at the rate of one thousand 
dollars per year. However, the fellowship did not develop as 
hoped because of changing community attitudes. Even after 
tentatively securing another building site and after 
establishing a yoked parish with Melvin Hill and Spindale 
under the leadership of Charles F. Rinehart, the fellowship did 
not prosper, and on September 30, 1970 the project was 
discontinued. "Lack of leadership, low attendance, and with- 
drawal of Brotherhood support" were cited as factors in the 
decision. 131 Thus came to an end what had started out as a 
very promising development in urban church extension. 

The work that George A. Branscom had started in the 
1870's in Polk County has certainly born abundant fruit during 
the first nearly one hundred years down to 1970. During the 
20th century, eleven different groups of Brethren have existed 
at some time in the general area of the southern part of North 
Carolina and the northern part of South Carolina. The casualty 
rate has been high, for many of these groups never had very 
much strength in terms of numbers of members, and only four 

131. Marion C. Wyant, "Local Church Historical Data," June 19, 1967; Yearbooks, 1964- 
1971, District Conference Minutes, 1963-1970. 


of these groups existed in 1970 as congregations: Melvin Hill, 
Mill Creek, Spindale, and Travelers Rest. However, it is cer- 
tainly true that the impact made by the Brethren lives on in 
some of the areas where there is no longer an active Brethren 
voice, and also, it is true that some of the strongest 
congregations in the District of North and South Carolina have 
been found in this general area. These congregations have 
surely played a significant role in the total activities of the 
district, and the Church of the Brethren in the Carolinas would 
have been much weaker without them. 


For several years in the first decade of the twentieth 
century, the Brethren maintained an active witness in eastern 
North Carolina. The Oak Grove congregation near La 
Grange was organized in September of 1900 with H. C. Early 
from Virginia as the elder and Louis Foss as the local 
minister. To supplement the work in this area of North 
Carolina, the General Mission Board and Tract Committee 
sent N. N. Garst of Virginia as a worker in this field in March, 
1901. Garst worked with Foss and also held meetings in neigh- 
boring communities. For example, from September 24 to 
October 4 of 1903 he conducted a revival in the Ground Nut 
school house near Seven Springs, where the people seemed 
eager to hear the Gospel. In the summer of 1904 he held some 
meetings near Richlands in Onslow County. In the report of 
the annual Love Feast at Oak Grove in 1904 which was led by 
T. C. Denton from Virginia, the reporter's address was 
Richlands, indicating the presence of some isolated Brethren 
in that community. 

Still farther east at Darden in Martin County, Denton and 
Garst held two weeks of meetings in October, 1904 which 


resulted in four applications for membership. Garst had been 
working in this area since the previous July. In his report for 
the year 1904, Garst indicated that there were "good 
prospects" for the continuation of the work at Darden. 
However, there are no further reports from Garst or from 
others describing his work, and it seems likely that after an 
additional year or two he was moved out of North Carolina to 
more promising fields. Louis Foss continued to live in the La 
Grange area for some years, but there is no further evidence 
regarding the Oak Grove congregation and it probably just 
withered away and died. 132 


When the congregations of the Church of the Brethren 
were divided into districts in the latter half of the nineteenth 
century, the congregations of North Carolina were divided 
between the Southern Virginia and the Tennessee districts 
with Fraternity and Flat Rock included in Southern Virginia 
and Brummetts Creek and Mill Creek included in Tennessee. 
At some time in the twenty years between 1882 and 1901, the 
Flat Rock congregation was transferred to the Tennessee 
District. With the organization of additional congregations in 
North Carolina, the following congregations from that state 
were included in the roster of the District Meeting of the 
Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida district held at the 
Whitehorn church in Tennessee in August, 1901: Mount Car- 
mel, Flat Rock, Pleasant Ridge, Long Hope, Mill Creek, Blue 
Ridge, Peak Creek, Greene River Cove, Hollow Poplar, 
Bethlehem (Bethel?), Brummetts Creek, Laurel Grove, 
Pleasant Grove, and White Rock. This meeting appointed a 

132. Gospel Messenger, January 25, 1902, pages 61-64; October 4, 1902, page 640; Oc- 
tober 17, 1903, page 669; July 2,1904, page 432; November 12, 1904, page 733; December 31, 
1904, page 844; January 14, 1905, page 30. 


committee "to consider the advisability of dividing the 
district," which made the following report: "We decided to lay 
the matter before each individual church in North Carolina, to 
pass upon and report at next District Meeting." 133 

Unfortunately, the Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida 
District Meeting Minutes of 1902 are not available, but 
evidently the individual congregations responded favorably to 
the question of dividing the district, for in October of 1902 the 
new North Carolina district held its first District Meeting in 
the Mill Creek church with Henry Sheets, moderator, George 
A. Branscom, reading clerk, and H. J. Woodie, writing clerk. 
At this time the two Florida congregations remained in the 
Tennessee district, but in 1912 the one remaining Florida 
congregation was incorporated in what became known as the 
North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida district. By the 
1920's the land boom which hit Florida after the First World 
War was drawing many Northerners, including Brethren, to 
Florida, and the Brethren by 1924 had organized five new 
congregations and had a total membership of about two 
hundred fifty. Consequently, the District Meeting of 1924 which 
was held at Sebring, Florida with all of the officers of the 
meeting from that congregation agreed to a division of the 
district with Florida and Georgia forming a new district. Thus, 
in 1925 the North Carolina and South Carolina district held its 
annual meeting at Melvin Hill with a new title for the district. 134 

During the 1960's as the result of vastly improved methods 
of transportation which had been developed in the previous 
fifty years, a movement was taking place in the Church of the 
Brethren to reduce drastically the number of districts. One of 
the proposed consolidations involved the Carolina and Ten- 
nessee districts. Beginning with studies of their field 
programs in 1962 the two districts cautiously explored the 
possibilities of more cooperative action. The first result was 
an agreement to share the services of the North and South 

133. District Meeting Minutes, 1901. 

134. Ibid., 1902, 1912, 1924. 


Carolina district executive secretary, Bert G. Richardson, 
beginning in September, 1963. This experimental program was 
formally accepted during 1964. The district office was 
relocated in September, 1965, in Johnson City, Tennessee, with 
Bert G. Richardson continuing as secretary. 

At the same time a committee also worked out a plan of 
organization for merging the two districts into one district. 
"After a very lengthy session" at the Carolina District 
Meeting of 1964 the proposal was voted down, since it had 
received less than the required two-thirds favorable vote. The 
proposal was reconsidered at a special called District Meeting 
at the Friendship church in January of 1965, and a decision was 
postponed until the regular conference of 1966. In 1966 the 
proposal for merging the districts was again voted down by 
referring it back to the congregations. Howevever, the idea 
refused to die, and in 1968 the District Conference again heard 
a recommendation from its district board that a merger with 
the Tennessee district be consummated. After another lengthy 
discussion the proposal was accepted by the congregational 
delegates gathered at New Haven, and plans were made to 
merge the two districts, effective September 1, 1969. 

On January 18, 1969, delegates from sixteen North and 
South Carolina congregations and from seventeen Tennessee 
and Alabama congregations gathered at the Melvin Hill 
Church to organize the new district. After a "lengthy 
discussion" which included rejecting two proposed names, the 
delegates agreed unanimously to call the new district, The 
Southeastern District. The detailed Plan of Organization 
proposed by the merger committee, which included Betty 
Griffith, Paul Zumbrun, and Wayne Huntly from the Carolina 
district, was also accepted unanimously by the delegates. The 
Plan established a district board of administration composed 
of twenty-seven members, seventeen of whom came from 
seven designated areas and ten of whom were elected at-large. 
The board was divided into four commissions: nurture, 
ministry, witness, and stewards. On the basis of this action 


taken in January, the 68th and final District Conference of the 
North and South Carolina District, the 108th and final District 
Conference of the Tennessee- Alabama District, and the 1st 
Southeastern District Conference met jointly in August, 1969 in 
the Blountsville, Tennessee area. 135 This combined con- 
ference symbolized the willingness of the Brethren in the 
Carolinas to accept the nationwide trend in the direction of 
larger districts. 


One of the values of having a district organization is that it 
makes possible combined action of the congregations within 
the district in church extension and Christian education, two 
very important areas in which cooperative action is desirable. 
One of the first actions of the new North Carolina district in 
1902 was to appoint a three man mission board, "It being the 
duties of this Board to solicit and receive means for 
missionary purposes and have all the mission work done that 
can possibly be done." Across the years this board which was 
led by George A. Branscom worked diligently and wisely in 
using the funds which the congregations provided. Also, the 
General Mission Board of the church frequently provided a 
subsidy for the use of the North Carolina district program. As 
a specific need developed, other specialized boards were 
established in the district, so that by the 1940's there were 
three boards, mission board, ministerial board, and board of 
Christian education. Finally in 1948, in harmony with the 
decision of the national boards of the church, these three 
district boards were combined into one district board of seven 
members which would handle all of the tasks previously 
carried by the individual boards. 136 It took a period of five 
years or more before this new organization was fully im- 

135. Ibid., 1962, 1969. 

136. Ibid., 1902, 1948. 


plemented in the district in terms of combined treasury, 
district board reports to District Conference, and related 
activities. As was frequently the case in church changes, the 
change was not difficult to begin but it was more difficult to 
implement and put into practice. 

During most of the twentieth century the district of North 
Carolina has had employed individuals working among the 
congregations of the state. For example, in 1905 the mission 
board paid fifteen different ministers a total of four hundred 
seventy-three dollars. They reported working a total of four 
hundred fifty-two days, preaching five hundred eighty ser- 
mons, and receiving one hundred one additions to the church. 
Two hundred dollars of the amount disbursed had come from 
the General Mission Board of the church. In 1919 twelve dif- 
ferent ministers received a total of $626.33 from the district 
mission board. 


During the 1930's the field program began to take more 
definite shape with the appointment of Fred Dancy as the 
District Field Man. He was recommended for this position by 
W. M. Kahle from Virginia who had learned to know Dancy 
through his work in the summer camp program. M. R. Zigler, 
who was the national director of ministry and home missions, 
approved the appointment, and Dancy was paid $900 per year 
by the General Mission Board. He continued to serve in this 
way until he became the pastor of the Melvin Hill congregation 
in 1944. 

In order to continue this valuable program, the 1944 
District Conference accepted a request from the Travelers 
Rest congregation that a district field-worker be appointed "to 
visit all our churches, hold meetings, and to take offerings at 
each meeting, and to make a report at our next district con- 
ference of money received, miles traveled, sermons preached 


and baptisms performed." The conference appointed Ethel H. 
Masters to this position. However, the 1945 District Conference 
Minutes did not include the report of the fieldworker, nor for 
that matter did it indicate the disbursement of $900 for this 
purpose. Evidently, the program was not continued. 137 

The next step in the establishment of a more adequate 
field program in the Carolina district came in 1949-1950. The 
1949 District Conference accepted a proposal from the New 
Haven congregation to appoint three field-workers to con- 
centrate their efforts in each of the three areas within the 
district. By the time of the 1950 District Conference part-time 
field men had been secured as follows: Holt E. Griffith in 
Mitchell County, Calvin C. Kurtz in Polk County, and Glenn 
Rohrer and after 1951 Bert G. Richardson in Ashe and 
Alleghany Counties. This arrangement continued until 1956, 
when a two thousand dollar grant from the General 
Brotherhood Board made it possible for the district to employ 
one full-time field man for the entire district; one of the 
district's pastors, Philip Zinn, agreed to accept this respon- 
sibility. Two years later, Zinn resigned to accept a pastorate in 
Virginia, and Bert G. Richardson, who had previously been the 
field man in the Ashe- Alleghany area, became the new district 
executive secretary. After 1963 Richardson was also employed 
as executive secretary by the Tennessee district on a shared- 
time basis. In 1969, Richardson resigned as district executive 
secretary and was replaced by Ronald K. Wine, who had been 
serving as the pastor of the yoked parish including the First 
Bristol and Liberty congregations in Tennessee. 138 Thus, Wine 
became the first executive secretary of the new Southeastern 
District. By a pattern of growth and development over the 
years down to 1969, the Carolina District had provided for 
more effective leadership of its district-wide program by the 
employing of a district executive secretary. 

137. Ibid., 1905, 1919, 1944, 1945; interview with Fred Dancy. 
138 Ibid., 1949, 1950, 1956, 1958, 1963, 1969. 



One of the very challenging activities which this relatively 
small district has developed by ups and downs since the 1930's 
has been a summer camp program. As early as 1933 the 
Melvin Hill congregation asked the District Meeting to con- 
sider establishing "a recreation camp for young people and 
ministers" in the district; the District Meeting appointed a 
committee to work on the project which included Carl Welch, 
M. E. Bradshaw, Grady Ridings, and Grady Masters. This 
committee must have done some good work, because in July of 
1934 a week of young people's camp was held on the temporary 
grounds of the Lee Jones farm near Scottville. S. Loren 
Bowman, a young pastor in the district, summarized the 
purpose of the camp: "Camp Carmel was held purposely to 
develop the religious life of our young people. Our young 
people are seeking Christ and the right for their life. The 
church should open the door of life by careful guidance and 
teaching. This is the challenge of Camp Carmel to the District 
of North and South Carolina." A fine staff was assembled that 
year both from inside and outside of the district including John 
B. White as director, Fred Dancy, Merlin Shull, Clayton B. 
Miller, Blake Million, Gladys Million, Carl Welch, Mrs. W. T. 
Head, Carl Coffman, Gladys Welch, Ethel Henderson, Arnold 
Jones, Robert L. Sherfy, Weldon Flory, A. B. Hurt, and Paul 
H. Bowman. 139 Evidently, Camp Carmel was off to an en- 
couraging start. 

In 1935 the camp was directed by Loren Bowman. Other 
leaders included Harold and Leona Row, Frank Williar, 
Weldon Flory, W. M. Kahle, Fred Dancy, and several other 
people from the district who had helped the year before. Camp 
Carmel continued to be held each summer in 1936, 1937, and 
1938, but in 1939 there was no summer district-wide activity for 
the young people. Other leaders during those three years in- 

139 Ibid., 1933; Juanita Harrell, "The History of Camp in the District of North and 
South Carolina," 1952, page 1. 


eluded Chalmer Shull, Dr. Ethel Gwin, E. S. Coffman, Don 
Gilbert, Mabel Sheets, Ina Ruth Barlow Addington, Helen 
Bowman Isenberg, A. S. B. Miller, J. C. Wine, and W. A. Reed. 
The only year in which the attendance was recorded was 1938, 
when there were forty-three campers. The fee for the week of 
camp was four dollars, which was worth a lot more in the 
1930's than in the 1960's. 140 

During the 1940's the young people held a series of annual 
week-end conferences instead of a week of summer camp. In 
1941 they met at the New Haven church with the leaders drawn 
from all over the district. After skipping 1942 and 1943, they 
gathered again at Mill Creek in 1944, at Pleasant Grove in 1945, 
at New Haven in 1946, at Mill Creek in 1947, at Melvin Hill in 
1948, and at New Haven in 1949. These conferences were better 
than nothing, but less than a full week of summer camp. 
Therefore, the young people resolved to attempt a summer 
camp program in 1950. They gathered at the Mt. Carmel 
church, where the Brethren were building a new church. The 
girls slept on straw in the old church and the boys put down 
straw in the new church. The kitchen in the basement of the 
new church was a very busy place for the adult cooks from 
Polk and Alleghany Counties, for there were seventy hungry 
campers to be fed. The leaders of this group included Holt E. 
Griffith, Fred Dancy, Calvin C. Kurtz, Raymond Boose, Glenn 
Rohrer, and Helen Bowman from the district, and Warren D. 
Bowman and Ora DeLauter from Bridgewater, Ira Petre from 
Africa, and P. G. Bhagat from India. Under the inspiring 
leadership of the Mill Creek-Mel vin Hill pastor, Kurtz, and 
Juanita Harrell, the CBYF president, the young people in 1950 
decided to purchase a centrally located campsite and raised 
seventy dollars toward its purchase. 141 

Although a committee of nine members was established to 
secure a campsite and although it inspected several possible 
sites, no decision had been made by the time for camp in 1951. 

140. Harrell, "History of Camp," pages 1-2. 

141. Ibid., pages 2-3. 


In order to maintain the enthusiasm a camp was held on the 
property of Jo. E. Graham of Charlotte, North Carolina, which 
was located next to Bert Richardson's home at Glade Valley. 
The cooking for the twenty-five campers was done by the 
campers themselves under the guidance of Mrs. Calvin C. 
Kurtz. Juanita Harrell described the experience: "This task 
was not too hard .... The fellowship and co-operation of the 
campers was really wonderful. It really seemed as if we were 
all members of one big family." The leaders that year in- 
cluded Clayton B. Miller, Holt E. Griffith, Calvin C. Kurtz, 
Floyd Brady, Evelyn Barkdoll, and Wilmer Crummett. 
Altogether the campers and leaders raised an additional one 
hundred nineteen dollars for the purchase of a camp site. 

In the spring of 1952 the purchasing committee, which now 
included six district leaders, located a satisfactory site about 
two and one-half miles south of Linville on highway 221. Forty- 
three acres could be secured for fifteen hundred dollars. After 
borrowing most of the money, the purchase was completed on 
April 5. About thirty people were present that day for the 
event, and they held a very meaningful dedication service in 
the chapel of Camp Linn Haven, a Lutheran camp next door to 
the new Brethren Camp Carolina. "At the close of that 
dedication service approximately 30 people went back to their 
homes, who were alive with fire and determination to see 
Camp Carolina as a reality." After spending a week in July, 
1952 in a work camp during which roads and cabins were built, 
the young people of the district gathered for their first regular 
week of camping in August. 142 Truly, Camp Carolina was 
becoming a reality. 

By the end of the second year of operation in 1953, the total 
investment in property and buildings had reached four 
thousand five hundred dollars, of which some eleven hundred 
dollars was indebtedness. In 1953 the camp was used for two 
weeks by juniors and young people, thus manifesting an in- 
creasing value to the Brethren of the district. By the summer 

142. Ibid., pages 3-5. 


of 1956 the camp was used for four weeks of camping and in 
addition during the previous year the women's work of the 
district met there twice, the ministers and elders met there 
four times, and the youth held a weekend retreat there. The 
indebtedness had been reduced to about five hundred dollars 
and continuing investments were being made in buildings and 
equipment. In 1957 the District Conference took steps to place 
the ownership and management of Camp Carolina more 
directly in the hands of the district board, which was a step in 
the direction of broadening the responsibility for the camp's 
success in the long run. 143 

Under this new arrangement, the District Conference of 
1958 heard a much more detailed report on Camp Carolina 
including a five year development plan. The estimated in- 
vestment had now passed eight thousand dollars which did not 
include the volunteer labor which had provided almost all of 
the work in building the cabins, the kitchen, the dining hall and 
auditorium building, and the new shower building. The amount 
sought for the development program was five thousand 
dollars, two thousand of which would be used for a new year- 
round administration cabin. 144 

One of the significant firsts for Camp Carolina in 1959 was 
the hosting of the District Conference in August. Another 
significant first was the record of one hundred twelve leaders 
and campers during the three weeks of camping for juniors, 
junior-highs, and youth. Of that number only two leaders came 
from outside of the district, indicating the establishment of a 
reservoir of trained leadership within the district. One 
discouraging factor was the presence of campers from only 
thirteen of the twenty-four congregations in the district. This 
problem was caused both by the lack of interest of some of the 
congregations and also by the fact that some were too small to 
have any interested campers. In 1960 the number of campers 
increased from seventy (in 1959) to eighty-six, but the number 

143. District Conference Minutes, 1953, 1956, 1957. 

144. Ibid., 1958. 


of congregations represented declined to ten. An interesting 
problem in 1960 was the collapse of the auditorium due to a 
heavy snow in March, but the loss was completely covered 
by insurance and the damage was fully repaired in time for 
summer camp. 145 The year 1960 was considered "one of the 
best years" in the history of the camp. 

By the time of the camping season of 1961, four new cabins 
and one new administration building, which was named the 
Ethel H. Masters Memorial Building, had been completed at a 
total cost of more than three thousand dollars. All of this 
amount had been raised and in addition the standing debt of 
fifteen hundred dollars had been reduced to seven hundred 
dollars by the camp development program under the 
leadership of Willie Lee Poole. One of the very much ap- 
preciated gifts was $1000 from K. D. Bryant of the Pleasant 
Grove congregation. His wife, Betty served faithfully for many 
years as the camp cook. 

During the three weeks of camping in 1961, eighty-five 
campers and thirty-nine leaders participated. In contrast to 
the usual trend in church camping, the youth camp was the 
largest and the junior camp was the smallest. One of the 
significant new developments in 1960 was the leasing of the 
camp to other groups including the Lutherans and the 
Methodists. The report to the 1961 District Conference con- 
cluded that "Camp Carolina is over the 'hump' and well on its 
way to become one of the outstanding camps in the 
Brotherhood." 146 

In the year 1962 the number of campers went over one 
hundred for the first time. Of the one hundred one campers, 
seventy-seven were from twelve congregations in the Carolina 
district, seventeen were from other denominations, seven were 
Brethren campers from other districts. The junior camp in- 
creased in size the most and became the largest of the three 
weeks. In addition the building of a new shower house under 

145. Ibid., 1959, 1960. 

146. Ibid., 1961; material from Bert G. Richardson. 


pressure from the government and other improvements cost 
more than three thousand dollars, most of which had to be 
borrowed. This heavy indebtedness coming right after the 
large investments in 1961 created some serious problems for 
the camp management. One compensating factor was an 
increased level of leasing of the camp, which brought in a 
substantial income. One necessary development in connection 
with securing a bank loan was the incorporation of the camp. 
It was discovered that there was already a Camp Carolina, 
Inc., so the original name of Camp Carmel was used in the 
incorporation, and the name was appropriately changed. 147 
The number of campers in 1963 was three less than in 1962 
and two less congregations were represented. Although the 
indebtedness continued to be a problem, another one 

thousand three hundred fifty dollars was invested in three new 
cabins for boys. To pay the indebtedness and to make further 
improvements including meeting the health department 
requirements the camp committee requested a three year 
development program including a district-wide financial 
canvass. Although many of the necessary improvements in 
kitchen and sanitation facilities had been made by the 
beginning of the 1964 season, the camp committee was very 
disappointed because of a drastic drop in campers to sixty- 
three. It was believed that "the pastors, church leaders and 
parents did not cooperate with the camping program as they 
should have." In spite of this loss in campers the indebtedness 
was reduced to less than a thousand dollars. 148 

The summer program at Camp Carmel snapped back in 
1965 with a new record of one hundred three campers, although 
forty per cent of them were not Brethren. They represented 
half of the twenty congregations in the district. The 
development program continued with the construction of 
another boys' cabin and other improvements, and the in- 
debtedness was reduced to a manageable three hundred 
dollars, which was scheduled to be paid off by the end of the 

147. Ibid., 1962. 

148. Ibid., 1963, 1964. 


year. However, some of the payments from the financial 
canvass were not coming in on schedule and threatened to 
slow down the development program. Betty Griffith directed 
the junior and youth camps, and Charles F. Rinehart 
directed the junior high camp in 1965. Like the membership in 
most of the Carolina congregations, the attendance at Camp 
Carmel took drastic jumps both up and down, and in 1966 it 
dropped to eighty-one with only eighteen in junior camp, which 
was the smallest junior camp in the camp's history. In ad- 
dition the camp committee had a very difficult time securing 
adequate leadership and considered canceling the summer 
camping schedule. Another problem was that no other groups 
leased the camp during the year causing a financial loss. The 
result of this loss along with the slowness in getting the 
development program pledges paid was that the camp 
committee was able to pay its small indebtedness but no ad- 
ditional projects were undertaken during the year. 149 

During the camping season of 1967 the total registration of 
campers increased very slightly to eighty-three, but the 
number of campers from the Brethren congregations of the 
district declined by seven to forty-three, so that almost half of 
the campers were coming from other districts and from other 
denominations. This was an odd situation indeed, in which the 
people of the district had invested thousands of dollars in a 
camp, which would have had to close its doors were it not for 
the presence of other people's children: "It would be very 
difficult to operate our camp without campers from outside 
our district and from other denominations." In terms of 
further camp improvements, there were none to report in 1967 
because there was no money and no workers. Some twelve 
hundred dollars in committments remained unpaid, and "part 
of the problem is to get someone who is willing to do the work. " 
The camp committee was really disturbed and asked: "Have 
we only lost our interest in camp, or a real searching question, 

149. Ibid., 1965, 1966. 


are we losing our interest in the work of the church-are we too 
busy?" 150 

In 1968 the number of campers at Camp Carmel declined 
by five to seventy-eight; the major reason for this decline was 
the fact that only fifteen boys and girls attended the junior 
camp, which was the "greatest concern" of the Camp Com- 
mittee in its annual report to the District Conference. One 
significant improvement was that the three age-group camps 
had sufficient well-trained leadership to maintain a strong 
program. An important new development was an exchange 
program called YALE (Youth Adult Leadership Exchange), 
which involved Brethren young people and adult leaders from 
Florida and from Alabama. Finally, the Camp Committee was 
enlarged at the District Conference of 1968 from three to six in 
order to broaden the base of support in the District. 

The number of campers increased significantly in 1969 to 
ninety, including thirty-eight in youth camp, thirty-three in 
junior-high camp, and nineteen in junior camp. Sixteen of the 
youth were from Florida and Alabama. Enough funds were 
raised to purchase new equipment, including electric water 
heaters, gas ranges, and a freezer, as well as to carry out 
essential maintenance work. One interesting new develop- 
ment was the decision of a corporation called Land Harbors of 
America to build a million dollar resort on property adjoining 
Camp Carmel. According to the Camp Committee, "Co- 
operation with these people has been good and there are many 
possibilities that this can benefit Camp Carmel." 152 

Although the number of juniors at camp increased in 1970, 
the youth and junior high camps decreased in size; as a result 
the total attendance declined to seventy-two, a drop of 20 per 
cent in one year. The most important new development 
reported by the Camp Committee was the appointment of a 
study committee by the two committees responsible for Camp 

150. ibid., 1967. 

151. Ibid., 1968. 

152. Ibid., 1969. 


Carmel and for Camp Placid, the camp sponsored by the 
Tennessee-Alabama District. Since the two districts had 
merged in 1969, it seemed necessary now "to study the future 
role of both camps in the district program." Both camps had 
serious problems in terms of attendance and financial support, 
but they also represented extensive investments of time and 
funds and they each had a loyal group of supporters. Exactly 
how each would fit into the total program of the new 
Southeastern District was not clear in 1970. 153 


Perhaps a few statistics are in order at this point in the 
story of the Churches of the Brethren in the Carolinas. As of 
the end of 1970, there were eighteen organized congregations, 
which is exactly one-half of the number that had existed at 
some time during the twentieth century. In this chapter thirty- 
six different groups of Brethren have been described, although 
not all of these were in existence at any one time. Thus, the 
attrition rate has been relatively high among these scattered 
Brethren on the southern frontier. 

The Church of the Brethren in the Carolinas has never 
been very strong as measured by the number of its members. 
These eighteen congregations in 1970 had 1155 members, which 
is an average of about sixty-four members per congregation. 
Only three congregations had more than one hundred mem- 
bers, and one more had ninety-nine. Eight of the congregations 
had less than fifty members and three more had less than 
sixty members. Altogether twelve of the eighteen 
congregations had less than the district average of sixty-four 

One hopeful statistic in 1970 was that eight of the 
congregations increased their membership sufficiently to 

153. Ibid., 1970. 


increase the total membership of the eighteen congregations 
to 1155, which represented a net increase for the year of fifty 
members, or nearly 5 per cent. Such an increase in a district in 
which there is only one full-time pastor certainly indicates 
that some significant evangelistic work is being conducted by 
deeply dedicated non-salaried or part-time ministers and by 
equally dedicated laymen. 


In the Introduction, I suggested that the Brethren in the 
Carolinas have been involved in two major transitions that 
have been taking place in the 20th century: (1) The transition 
that has effected all of the members of the Church of the 
Brethren as it moved from a sectarian group characterized by 
its voluntary separation from society to a church group 
characterized by its acceptance of the society in which it lived 
and by its acceptance of the patterns of worship and practice 
followed by the major Protestant denominations such as the 
Presbyterians, the Methodists, and the Baptists. (2) The 
transition from a religious group in which virtually all of the 
members lived in rural areas and made their living as far- 
mers, which was specifically encouraged as a sectarian 
practice in the 19th century, to a religious group in which large 
numbers of its members have been forced by the changing 
American economy to find work in the towns and cities. The 
Brethren have generally found it very difficult to establish 
churches in these towns and cities, and thus large numbers of 
members have been lost to other Protestant churches. 

Related to these transitions has been the Brethren em- 
phasis on the free or unsalaried ministry, in which the minister 
of the congregation was expected to make his living as a 
farmer, just like all of the other members did. When the 
minister moved to the town to find work, as some did, he found 


his job so demanding in terms of time, that he did not have the 
leisure time to take care of the spiritual needs of the other 
members of the congregation. In the Carolinas especially, it 
rarely happened that enough Brethren moved to a particular 
town to enable them to provide the financial support to enable 
a pastor to serve their needs on a full-time or even part-time 
basis; in other words, the Brethren spread out in looking for 
jobs and went in small numbers to many different places. 

Consequently, the transition from a non-salaried ministry 
to a professionally trained and paid ministry, which has taken 
place in many Brethren congregations in other areas, has been 
thwarted in the Carolinas. The Churches of the Brethren have 
generally been small enough in membership that they have 
found it very difficult to support a full-time pastor. Also, by 
1970 there was something of a shortage of full-time pastors in 
the Church of the Brethren as a whole, and consequently most 
of the pastors were looking for the larger and more attractive 
pastorates. As a result, at the end of 1970 there was only one 
full-time pastor serving just one congregation in all of the 
congregations that had composed the District of North and 
South Carolina, and that was a special situation in which the 
man had expected to be engaged in another part-time job 
which apparently did not develop as anticipated. In a day and 
age in which many Brethren congregations, as well as those of 
other denominations, are served by full-time pastors, this 
shortage in the Carolinas is a crucial problem. 

However, most of the eighteen congregations considered 
in this study could not financially support a full-time pastor, 
even if they thought it was a good idea and if the pastors were 
available; consequently, they must turn to other types of 
leadership. Most of them have been very fortunate across the 
years in securing dedicated non-salaried or part-time pastoral 
leadership. The major problem in 1970, however, is that most 
of these men have reached (or passed) retirement age, and the 
amount of leadership which they can provide is sharply 
limited. Very few younger men are available, who are willing 
to serve as pastors and secure the necessary training to do the 


job satisfactorily, while at the same time earning a living in 
some secular occupation. Once they secure some experience 
and some other training, they are frequently called to become 
full-time pastors in some other section of the country. 

It would appear to most outside observers who study the 
Church of the Brethren represented by these eighteen 
congregations in the Carolinas that the future is not very 
encouraging. They have many handicaps, including the 
paucity of members both in the individual congregations and 
in the area as a whole, the spread-out nature of the 
congregations, and the lack of professionally-trained 
leadership. One recent development which may perhaps 
contribute to a solution of some of these problems has been the 
reorganization of the district lines to include the congregations 
in Tennessee and Alabama. The meaning of this development 
for the future is not at all clear at this time, especially since 
almost all of the nearly thirty congregations in those two 
states have the same three problems just outlined. 

One hope for the future rests on the availability of outside 
funds from the church as a whole. Rather generous funds have 
been available in past years to support the district executive 
secretary and to support individual congregations, including 
the Spartanburg fellowship. On the one hand, it is clear that 
sufficient outside funds are not available to provide full-time 
pastoral leadership for each congregation, and on the other 
hand such a step would not solve many of the problems 

The best hope for the future of these Carolina 
congregations seems to depend on the availability and 
utilization of dedicated lay leadership, designed to strengthen 
the congregations that are now in existence. Some of these 
present-day congregations will almost certainly close their 
doors in the next quarter of a century, but those that survive 
will be those that have a present-day combination of potential 
and willing young people and of attractive economic con- 
ditions which can provide a challenge to keep these young 


people in the community. Unfortunately, too many of the 
Brethren congregations are located in declining communities 
from an economic standpoint, and the Brethren have not been 
very successful in moving the church along with its moving 
members, when it meant moving to the towns and cities. But 
dedicated lay leadership could overcome this reluctance to 
meet changing conditions, and in fact, it must be willing to 
make such changes, if the Church of the Brethren in the 
Carolinas is to survive! 
















MT. AIRY, N. C. 


— *> - — -^ 









RT. 1, TRYON, N. C. 


Abbotts Creek 12 

Abernathy family 58 

Addington, Ina Ruth Barlow 218 

Aker family 7 

Alamance, Battle of (1 771 ) 14-15 

Aldridge, Isaac 38 

Anders, Coy 1 30, 1 36, 1 43 

146, 159 

Andrews L.F.W 74 

Annual Meeting 

1763 10 

1779 16 

1764 35-36 

1794 62, 64-68 

1798 69 70 

1800 70-72 

1879 109 

1910 173 

191 1 173 

1920 192 

Anointing 2 

Antietam congregation 28 

Arnold, Solomon G 102 

Arrowood, Samuel 1 67 

Arrowood, Theodore R. 178 

Ashe County, N.C., 81 

Ashe County congregation . . . 88 93, 101 108, 

Atkins family 58 

Atlantic crossing 52 


Bailey, I.B., Sr 165 

Bailey congregation 111, 177 1 79 

Baker family 7 

Ballou, Hosea 74 


Doctrine 2,13,14 

Practice 50, 82, 97, 

1 11, 115, 1 23 

Baptists 8, 1 3, 25, 47, 55, 75, 

1 22, 147, 167, 184, 209, 226 

Barkdoll, Evelyn 219 

Barnett, Calvin 1 67, 1 78, 1 79, 

180, 181, 206 

Barnett, Charlie 1 79-1 80 

Barnett, Joseph W 167, 180 

Barnett, Paul 1 79 

Barnett, Solomon 1 79 

Barr, Beverly 1 36 

Barrett family 58 

Bashor, John C 102 

Batson, J.N., 206 

Bauer family 89 

Bauer, John 90 

Baumgartner family 7 

Beahm, I.N.H 164,171 

Beam family 46 

Beam, Michael 44 

Beam, Peter 62 

Beard, Valentine 18 

Beaver Creek congregation 26 30, 75-76, 


Beaver Creek 30 

Becker, Peter 3 

Beissel, Conrad 28-29, 36, 

40, 45 

Berea congregation 1 81 -1 82 

Bermudian congregation 28 

Bethel congregation 1 76-1 77 

Bhagat, P.G 218 

Biddix, Floyd 171 

Black, W.K 203 

Blevan, John 104 

Blue Ridge congregation 1 26, 1 38-140 

Bob Jones University 1 89 

Boehme, Jacob 57 

Bollinger, George F 88 

Bonsack, CD 1 28 

Boone County, Ky 50 

Boone, Daniel 91 

Boone, Squire 91 

Boose, Raymond 218 

Botetourt County, Va 82 

Bowers family 90 

Bowers, Adam 90 

Bowers, John 89-90, 91 , 

92, 102 

Bowman family 108 

Bowman, C 102 

Bowman, D.B 102 

Bowman, Helen 21 8 

Bowman, John 97 

Bowman, Joseph B 102 

Bowman, Joseph 141 

Bowman, L.A., 195 

Bowman, Paul H 217 

Bowman, S. Loren 1 24, 1 25, 185, 

187, 195, 217 

Bowman, Warren D 218 

Boy Scouts 1 98 

Bradley, E.J 1 1 6, 1 88 

Bradshaw, J.W 109, 110, 1 1 1 , 


Bradshaw, M.E 163, 165, 180, 


Brady, Floyd 219 

Branscom, Betty 115 

Branscom, Etta 193 

Branscom, George A 11 3 1 1 6, 1 23, 1 27, 

1 28, 1 32, 1 39, 1 41 , 1 55, 1 72, 1 82, 1 85, 
189, 190, 191, 194, 195, 202, 203, 205, 
209, 212, 214 

Branscom, J.F 117 

Brendel, George Samuel 87 

Brethren Volunteer Service 1 36 

Brethren Young People's Department .... 1 25, 
127, 151, 172, 186-187 

Bridgewater College 1 34 

Broad River 27, 30, 33 

Broad River congregation 36-39, 41 

Brooklyn congregation 11 6-1 17, 1 84 

185, 188 190 

Brooks family 58 

Brown, Charlie 1 57 

Brown, Joe 179, 1 80 

Brubaker, Daniel 1 09 

Brumbaugh, M.G 29 

Brummetts Creek congregation . .1 09, 111-113, 
160 166, 181, 182, 211 

Bryant, Etta 1 76 

Bryant, K.B 171 

Bryant, K.D 221 

Bryant, S.S 167, 178, 180 

Buckner family 46 

Burkhart family 89 

Burkhart, Abraham 80 

Burkhart, Christian 81 

Burkhart, Henry 80 

Burkhart, Jehu 49, 51 , 64, 

79-83, 84, 86, 95 

Burkhart, Magdalene 81 , 83 

Burkhart, Nathaniel 81 

Byrd, Andrew 171 


Camp Carmel 21 7-225 

Camp Placid 225 

Cannon, Ephraim 38 

Cannon, Samuel 38 

Canomore, Jacob 26-27, 36-37 

Cantrell, Amanda 115 

Cantrell, Henry 115 

Cape Girardeau County, Mo 50, 88 

Carpenter, Margaret 91 -92 

Carpenter, Matthias 91 -92 

Carver family 89 

Carver, John 89 

Catawba congregation 6-8 

Catawba River 6,7 

Cate family 58 

Celibacy 29 

Cellare, Jacob 44 

Chapman, Giles 58-60, 

73-74, 76, 78 

Cherokee Indians 83 

Childers, Robert 1 55 

Church of God 118 

Church of the Brethren 

Name 1 

Beginning in Germany 1-3 

Movement to America 3-4 

Church of the Brethren Youth 

Fellowship (see also Brethren 

Young People's Department) 198 

Civilian Public Service 134-135, 

152-153, 164, 198, 206 

Civil War 22, 1 07 

Clark County, Ind 18 

Clark, J.D 184 

Clayton, John 39 

Cleary, Connie 143, 148, 156 

Cleary, David 1 30, 1 32, 1 39, 

143, 148, 153, 1 56, 157, 158, 159 

Click family 46 

Cline family 7 

Cline, J.M 118 

Clouds Creek congregation 30-31 

Coal Creek community 144 

Coates family 58 

Cocolico congregation 45 

Coff man, Carl 217 

Coffman, E.S 164,218 

Committee of Observation, 

Washington County, Md 85 

Conestogo congregation 10-11, 28, 29 

Conewago congregation 10, 28 

Connecocheague Creek 26 

Connecocheague congregation 32 

Cooper family 58 

Cooper, H. Austin 27 

Costner family 7 

Cotton mill 1 84 

Coventry congregation 28 

Crist, Galen 185, 195 

Croll, Magdalene 51 

Crosswhite, Jesse 102 

Crouse, Jacob 44-45, 46 

Crouse, John 42-43 

Crowder family 7 

Crummett, Wilmer 219 

Crumpacker, Peter 102 

Cub Creek school 1 81 

Cureton family 58 

Curry, A. Stauffer 1 35-1 36 


Daily Vacation Bible School 1 24, 1 27, 

134, 146, 151, 186, 198 

Daleville College 170 

Dancy, Fred 1 28, 1 29, 1 34, 1 35, 

136, 143, 148, 150, 151, 152, 153, 156, 163, 
167, 169, 171, 185, 195, 215, 217, 218 

Davis, D.C 1 03 

Davis, J.F., 189 

Deardorff, C.H 1 35 

DeLauter, Ora 197, 218 

Denton, T.C 210 

Dick family 7 

Dickens, William A 203 

Dierdorff family 23 

Dietz, Earl 151, 195, 197, 205 

Disslin, Catherine 51 

District boards 214-215 

District camp 217-225 

District organization 1 01 , 21 1-214 

Dobbin, John 46 

Donner family 46 

Dove, Washington 107, 1 15 

Downs Chapel congregation 200-201 

Downs family 58 

Driver, S.I., 195 

Dunckley, John 38 

Dunkers 1 

Dutchmans Creek 25, 91 

Dutchmans Creek congregation 42-47 


Earhart family 7 

Earl of Granville 85, 90, 91 

Early, H.C 118, 210 

Eberhart family 7 

Edisto congregation 31 -36 

Eddy, Richard 61 , 63, 74, 

75, 78 

Edwards, Bruce 1 86 

Edwards, Joshua 39 

Edwards, Levi 1 80 

Edwards, Martin 1 67 

Edwards, Morgan 3, 4, 5-7, 8-1 1 , 

1 9, 24, 26-27, 29-30, 32, 39-40, 41 , 47 

49, 56, 58, 77-78, 85 

Edwards, Robert 163, 170, 191 

Eiler, Emmet 1 24 

Elk Shoals congregation 109-110 

Elsmore family 58 

Ephrata community 29, 40-41 , 61 

Eucharist 2 

Evangelistic meetings 1 07-1 08, 1 09, 111, 

1 1 7, 1 23, 1 29, 1 41 -1 42, 1 43, 1 51 , 1 63-1 64, 

1 67-1 68, 1 70, 1 83-1 84, 1 96 

Ewarry congregation 8-19, 20 

Excommunication 1 73 

Fairfield County, S.C 57, 75, 78 

Farrington, Kermit 129,132,139,140, 

1 43. 1 48, 1 53, 1 54, 1 56, 1 58 

Faw family 100 

Faw, Abraham 52-53 

Faw, Isaac 52, 53, 54, 81 

83, 95-97 

Faw, Isaac, Jr., 84 

Faw, Jacob 5,51 -54 

Faw, Jacob, Jr 52, 53, 54 

89, 97-101, 102, 119 

Faw, Maria 87 

Fellows, Matthias 38 

Felthouse, J. V 1 91 

Final Restoration 54 

Finnell, Virgil C, 1 64, 1 70, 1 72 

Fisher, Gene 1 89 

Flat Rock congregation (N.C.) . . 91, 102, 104, 

106-108, 1 22-125, 138, 182, 211 

Flat Rock congregation (Va.) 64 

Florida, Church of the 

Brethren in 212 

Flory, Weldon I., 129, 217 

Forney family 7 

Foss, Louis 1 18-119, 210-211 

Fouts family 1 1 , 1 9, 89 

Franklin County, Va 97 

Fraternity congregation 48-54, 63, 

79-88, 95 101 

Frederick County, Md., 26, 49, 51 , 52 

Freedom of religion 3 

Free, Lawrence 26-27, 36 

Freeling, John Henry 44 

French and Indian War 15 

French Creek community 40 

Frey, Christian 50 

Friedberg 50 

Friendship-North Wilkesboro 

congregation 1 56-1 59 

Friends, Society of 1 6-1 8, 21 -22, 

24, 58, 59 

Frost, Alex 143 

Fry family 7 

Fundamental Brethren 179-182, 190 


Gambold, John 83 

Garb worn by Brethren 1 73-1 74 

Garber, John 64, 89 

Garber, Joseph 1 06 

Garber, S.H 1 63 

Garst, Henry 1 03, 1 09 

Garst, John 1 63 

Garst, N.N., 1 1 8, 1 84, 210 211 

Garver family 89 

Gascho, Eli 1 34, 1 35, 1 36, 1 50 

Gascho, Ivan 1 30, 1 34, 1 35, 1 36 

General Mission Board 214-215 

General Mission Board and 

Tract Committee 118 

George II, King of England 39 

Georgia 39-40 

German Baptist Brethren 1 

German language 6, 82 

Germany, Brethren in 1-3 

Giersch, George 82 

Giesel, Arwilda 1 36 

Gilbert, Donald 186, 218 

Gilbert, Kinchen 115 

Gilbert, Willie H 205 

Gillam family 58 

Gilliland family 58 

Girtman, Mary Gascho 1 30, 1 34, 1 36 

Glenwood community 144 

Glick family 46 

Glick D.M 1 24, 1 27, 1 28 

Glick, John W 208 

Golden congregation 201-202 

Graham, Jo. E 219 

Grayson County, Va 147 

Greene, Elizabeth 142 

Green River Cove congregation 1 1 6, 1 88 

Greenway, Thomas 1 1 7 

Gregory, John 37 

Gregory, Richard 37, 38 

Griffith, Betty 213, 223 

Griffith, Elhanan 112 

Griffith, Holt E 136, 143, 148, 163, 

1 69, 1 78, 1 80, 1 81 , 1 90, 206, 21 6, 21 8, 21 9 
Griffith, H.M 109, 110, 111, 

167, 169, 170, 177. 
Griffith, Joseph H., . 1 1 0, 1 63, 1 65, 

167, 172, 177-178, 180 

Griffith, Matison 1 79 

Gros, Christian 44 

Grove family 89 

Guss, Christopher 7 

Gwin, Ethel 124, 218 


Hall, Claude 1 39 

Ham, Ezekiel 62 

Ham, John 61-64, 69-73 

Ham, Joseph 62 

Handy, W.H., 108, 132, 1 33, 141-142, 

143, 144, 146, 147, 148, 150, 153 

Hanes, Edwin 98 

Hanes, Thomas 87 

Hannon, Kenneth 208 

Harley, Samuel 1 96 

Harmon community 1 28, 1 29, 1 30 

Harrell, Bruce 169 

Harrell, Elbert 110 

Harrell, Fred 1 63, 1 65, 1 69, 

1 7 1 , 1 80 

Harrell, Juanita 218, 219 

Harrell, Wiley 110 

Harris, William 38 

Harrison County, Ind., 81 

Hauser, Fredr., 96 

Hawkins family 58 

Hawkins, Joshua 62 

Hawks, W.H 1 59 

Hays family 58 

Head, W.T 197 

Head, Mrs. W.T 217 

Heier family (see also Heyer) 98 

Heier, Rudy 52, 80, 86 

Henderson County, N.C 114 

Henderson, Ethel 217 

Henderson, Mary 115 

Hendricks family 7, 21 -25, 42^5 

Hendricks, Daniel 46 

Hendricks, Gerhard 21 

Hendricks, James 22-25, 43, 44 

Hendricks, John 22-25, 42-43, 

44, 47 

Hendricks, Mary 46 

Hendrix, William 44 

Henry, J.M 9-10, 24 

Hensley, Joel 176 

Heyer, Isaac 80 

Heyer, Leonard 80, 86 

Hilburn family 58 

Hill, Robert L 137, 208 

Hinsdale, B.E., Jr 186 

Hinsdale, Jane 115 

Hinson, S. La Verne 136, 205 

Hollow Poplar congregation 1 66 1 68 

Honberger, S.A 170, 191 

Honeycutt, J.W 167, 1 78 

Honeycutt, W.M 167 

Hoover family 7,11,19 

Hopkins, Paul 130, 148, 153, 154 

Home, Cager 115 

Home, Lois 186 

Home, Rebecca 115 

Hughes, Earl 206 

Hughes, Myra 1 71 

Huntley settlement 1 83 

Huntley, K. Dean 136 

Huntley, Wayne 195, 213 

Huntsinger, Jacob 81 

Hurt, A.B 217 

Hutton, James 48 

Hylton, CD 1 02 

Hylton, H.P 102, 103, 144 


Ikenberry, E.L 136 

Independent Brethren Church 149 

Indian attacks 50, 93 

Influenza epidemic 194 

Isenberg, Helen Bowman 218 

Isenhart family 7 


Jackson, J.R., 123, 124, 128-129, 

132, 139, 148, 159, 163, 167, 168, 169, 170, 
1 77, 1 80, 202, 204, 205, 206 

Jackson, Lydia E., 203 

Jackson, Sarah 58 

Jackson, W.A 203 

Jackson, W.J 204 

Jackson, W.M., 203, 205 

Jacobs family 7 

Jesus Christ 65-66, 68, 72 

Johnson, Andy 167, 180 

Johnson, B.uford 195, 205 

John the Baptist 67 

Jones, Arnold 217 

Jones, Lee 21 7 

Jones, Norman 1 04 

Jones, Samuel 116,1 88, 1 89, 

191, 194, 203 
Julien family 58 


Kahle, W.M 1 28, 21 5, 21 7 

Keller family 7, 46, 89 

Keller, Jacob 46 

Keller, Johannes 70 

Kenepp, Harold 1 36 

Kern, Conrad 1 9-21 

Kern, John (Hans) 19-21 

Kessler family 89 

Kessler, Elizabeth 81 

Kessler, Raymond 148 

Kirkland, Richard 38, 39 

Kirkland, Robert 39 

Kirkland, Snowden 31 

Klein family 7 

Knob Creek congregation 113 

Krits, Peter 7 

Kurtz, Calvin C 185, 187, 195 

216, 218, 219 

Kurtz, Mrs. Calvin C, 219 

Kuykendol family 7 


Ladies Aid Society 125,152-153 

Lancaster County, Pa 9, 22, 45 

Landes family 89 

Land Harbors of America 224 

Large family 58 

Latter Day Saints 208 

Laughrun, A. Marion 111,1 63, 1 65, 

167, 170, 177, 185, 186, 191, 

195, 196 
Laughrun, S. M., 1 09, 1 1 1 , 1 67, 


Laurens congregation 202 

Law, William 57 

Laws, Charles 1 67 

Lawter, William 117 

Lawton, J.G., 117 

Leatherman, Christian 17-18, 86 

Leatherman, Daniel 8, 9-1 1 , 

24, 32,47, 86 

Leatherman, I. D., 206 

Leatherman, Nicholas 17, 86 

Ledford, F. M 203 

Leeper family 7 

Leftwitch, William P 1 56 

Lenoir County, N. C 118 

Leslie, Claud 1 69 

Leslie, James 29 

Lewis, Daniel 42, 44 

Lewis, Frank 1 23 

Lewis, Gideon L 122, 123 

Lewis, J. Gideon 1 02, 1 23 

Lewis, James 1 23 

Lewis, John 1 03 

Lewis, R. F 1 24 

Lewis, S. E 1 23 

Lewis, William R., 202 

Limestone congregation 109 

Little Conewago congregation 9-10, 

23-24, 28, 49, 69, 71 

Little Pine congregation 142-146 

Long, B. F 206 

Longenecker, Hans 10 

Longenecker, Walter 1 36 

Long Hope congregation 105, 137-138 

Long, I. S., 196 

Lords Supper 2 

Loudoun County, Va., 19 

Love Feast 

Doctrine 2 

Practice . . . .' 175, 194 

Lowe, E. T 143, 144 

Lower Stillwater congregation 80 

Lowman, J. W 148, 153 

Lowmans Valley congregation 153-154 

Lutherans 221 

Lyalls, Asbury 139 

Lynch, Elijah 73-75, 76, 79 


McClane, J 131 

McCoy, James 1 89 

McCrakin, John 46 

McCullouch, Henry Eustace 11 

McKinsey family 58 

McMaster, FitzHugh 33 

Mabe, Clarence 1 36, 1 60 

Mack family 89 

Mack, Alexander 1 , 3-4 

Mack, Alexander, Jr., 64, 72 

Mack, Andrew 46 

Madison County, Va., 49 

Mallott, Floyd E., 4 

Marriage service 60, 87, 119 

Marshall, Friedrich 53 

Martin, David 6, 1 0, 27, 

29-33, 42, 47, 54, 57, 59, 

60, 64, 73, 79 

Martin, George Adam 27-29, 36 

Martin, Nicholas 10, 32, 47 

Martin, Sarah 100 

Mast, John 11 

Masters, C. B 1 69 

Masters, Don 110, 171 

Masters, Ethel H 1 1 5, 1 83, 

201, 216 
Masters, Grady 1 63, 1 67, 1 69, 

171, 178, 180, 186, 217 

Masters, H. H 177, 181 

Masters, Henry 1 08, 1 09, 1 1 

Masters, Hoke 110 

Masters, Jake 110 

Masters, Norris 1 69 

Maxwell, Thomas 43 

May Apple Knob school 1 04 

May, E. A 205, 206 

Medical treatment 82 83 

Melvin Hill congregation 117, 183, 

184-185, 190-200 
Mennonites 2, 3, 9, 1 1 , 

16-18, 21, 87, 134 

Meriwether, Robert 27 

Methodists 25, 47, 75, 86, 

129, 183, 201, 205, 221, 226 

Michel, Conrad 20 

Middlecreek congregation 49 

Mill Creek congregation 11 5-1 1 6, 

182-188, 211 

Miller family 7, 46, 89 

Miller, A. S. B., 218 

Miller, Clayton B 91 , 106, 1 23-1 24, 

1 26-127, 1 31-132, 139, 143, 148, 1 50, 

151, 1 53, 156, 170, 191, 194, 205, 217, 219 

Miller, D. L 164 

Miller, David 106 

Miller, George 85 

Miller, George W 103, 106, 122 

Miller, Henry 85 

Miller, Howard 116 

Miller, J. E 114 

Miller, J. Henderson 103, 105 

Miller, John 85 

Miller, Jonathan 84, 89, 

90 92, 101-102, 122 

Miller, Jonathan 1 03 

Miller, Mary 1 06 

Miller, Matthias 103, 106 

Miller, Michael 26-27 

Miller, Michael 85 

Miller, Moses 1 09 

Miller, R. N 167 

Miller, Valentine 85 

Million, F. Blake 148, 217 

Million, Gladys 217 

Mills family 58 

Mills, Robert 54, 75 

Mitchell County congregation 108-113, 


Mitchell, S. Earl 196 

Mock family 46 

Mocksville, N.C 47 

Moherman, T.S 1 70 

Monocacy congregation 32 

Monocacy River 9 

Montgomery County, Ky., 44 

Montgomery County, Ohio 80 

Moody, D.L 108 

Moonshiners 115 

Moore, J.H 47, 54-55, 64, 

88, 161-162 
Moravians 5,11-18, 48-51 , 

82-84, 86-88, 90, 95-96, 100 
Mountain Creek (Spindale) 

congregation 203-204 

Mountain View congregation 147 

Moxley, Nat 104 

Moyer family 7 

Mt. Airy congregation 1 59-1 60 

Mt. Carmel congregation 104, 133-137 

Mt. Olive congregation 1 55 

Musical instruments 191-193 

Myers family 58 


Naff, Abraham 1 02 

Naff, Isaac 102 

Nance family 58 

Nead, John 109 

Nead, Matthias ■• 112 

Neff, James M 183-184, 191 

Nelly, Victor 37 

Nesinger family 7 

Newberry, S.C 57-58, 74, 76 

New Bethel congregation 141-142, 150 

New Haven congregation 135, 142, 


New River 89, 90 

New Windsor relief center 135, 153 


Oak Grove congregation 11 8-1 19, 

210 211 

Oath-taking 2 

O'Neall, John Belton 58-61, 78 

Onslow County, N. C 210 

Osborne, Beldon 157 

Osborne, Bristoe 1 30, 1 36, 1 51 , 

159, 205 

Osborne, Ed 1 48 

Osborne, Gilbert 129, 130, 150, 


Osborne, James 1 57 

Osborne, John 1 28, 1 57 

Owen, Thomas 36-37 

Owens, Martin 1 03, 1 26, 1 39, 

148, 155 


Pacifism 2, 1 5, 1 34, 


Pacolet River 117 

Parsons, Carl 148 

Patchet, Elijah 31 

Patton, Sadie Smathers 200 

Paul, the Apostle 66 

Peak Creek congregation 1 03, 1 26-1 31 , 


Pearson, Jeremiah 38 

Pearson, John 29, 33-35, 42 

Peedee River 6, 1 9, 55 

Pennsylvania 3, 5, 1 8, 

48, 50 

Penny packer, Samuel W 21-22 

Peters, Daniel 97 

Peters, H. W 195 

Peters, Raymond R 1 24 

Petersons Chapel congregation 168 

Peterson, Billy 1 68 

Peterson, Elhanan 109, 110, 

167, 176 

Peterson, Henry H 167, 177 

Peterson, Hiram 1 09 

Peterson, J.D 167, 178, 180 

Peterson, J. H., 1 64, 1 67 

Peterson, Lynell 178, 180, 206 

Peterson, Peter 1 08-1 09 

Pfaff, Peter 48 

Pfautz family (See Fouts) 11 

Pfautz, Michael 64 

Pietistic Movement 1 

Pigeon River congregation 1 79 

Pinckney, Thomas 32 

Pleasant Grove congregation .... 1 1 0, 1 68-1 76 
Pleasant Valley congregation .... 104, 131-133 

Poling, Newton L 1 51 

Polk County congregations 113-117, 


Poole, Willie Lee 152, 221 

Prather, H. M 103 

Prather, Hendrick 105 

Prather, Marian 1 05, 202-203 

Prather, Martin 102, 103 

Prather, Tom 1 05 

Pratt, Effie 146 

Preaching 96, 99 

Presbyterians 226 

Pritchett, Reuel B 123, 167 

Professional ministry 121, 226-228 

Proselyting 87 

Putnam, Ellie Sanders 115 

Putnam, Jake .115 


Quakers 16-18, 21-22, 24 


Raiford, Philip 33 

Ramage family 58 

Ramsey, Robert 19 

Ramsower family 7 

Randolph County, N. C 9 

Rasmussen, Roland 1 89 

Reddies River community 155 

Reed, Alfred D., 1 02 

Reed, Andrew J., 1 03, 1 04, 1 05 

108, 126, 133 

Reed, Eli 108 

Reed, Isaac 1 02 

Reed, John A 133, 142, 143, 

148, 150 

Reed, N.C 129, 133, 139, 

143, 144, 146, 147, 148, 151 

Reed, P. D 112 

Reed, W. A 1 08,1 26, 1 33, 

141, 142, 143, 145, 147, 
151, 153, 163, 170, 185, 
189, 191, 193, 194, 195, 
201, 202, 203, 205, 206, 

Reed. William E 103 

Regulator Movement 14-15 

Religious freedom 3 

Renshaw, Abraham 62 

Renz, James 1 35, 1 51 

Rethly, Jacob 44 

Revolutionary War 15-18 

Reynhart family 7 

Rhodes family 7 

Richardson, Allen 104 

Richardson, Bert G 139, 143, 154, 

157, 158, 169, 185, 195, 
199, 202, 205, 208, 213, 216 

Richardson, J. A., 144 

Richardson, R. F., 147, 148, 1,53 

Ridings, Grady 217 

Riley family 58 

Rinehart, Charles F 151, 185, 187, 

195, 197, 198, 199, 205, 
206, 208, 209, 223 

Riverside congregation 1 55-1 56 

Roberts, Hazel 1 65 

Rogers, J. W 195 

Rohrer, F. C 1 24, 1 27, 1 33-1 34, 

136, 142, 148, 186, 196 

Rohrer, Glenn 1 36, 1 51 , 216, 


Roland, Gasper 44, 45-47, 89, 

90, 92, 102 

Rolande, Hans 45 

Roland, Joseph 44, 46, 47, 62 

Rosenberger, I.J 194 

Roth, Jacob 13 

Row, Leona 217 

Row, W. Harold 217 

Rowan County, N. C 11, 17-18 

Rowe, Donald 1 96 

Rowe, Robert L., 152, 185 

Rowland Creek congregation 148-149 

Rowland, John ; . .46 

Rowland, Philip AS 

Royer, Galen B 194 

Rudisaile family 7 

Rummel, Merle 1 58 


Sabbatarianism 29 

Sachse, Julius F., 36 

Sanders, Ellie 114 

Sanders, Hattie 114 

Sanders, Martha 115 

Sauer, Christopher, Jr., 45 

Saunders family 8 

Saunders, Samuel (Lemuel) 6, 7-8 

Savannah Rive'r 39 

Saylor family 7 

Schutz, John Jacob 48-49 

Schwartz, Jacob 11 

Schwarzenau, Germany 1 

Scotch -Irish 4 

Scruggs, Jack 1 95 

Sea-going cowboys 1 35 

Seares, John 17 

Seitz family 7 

Seventh Day Brethren 29, 30, 36-42 

Sexton, A. J., 1 50 

Sexton, Cora 1 52 

Sexton, Delia 1 52 

Seymour, Israel 40-41 

Sheets family 46, 1 03 

Sheets, Adam 103, 106, 126 

Sheets, Andrew 1 03 

Sheets, Andrew 102, 126 

Sheets, Emmanuel M 103, 107 

Sheets, Henry 1 02, 1 04, 1 05, 

107, 133, 141, 191, 212 

Sheets, Jesse 106 

Sheets, John Jacob 48-49 

Sheets, Mabel 218 

Sheets, Rex 130, 139, 

157, 158 

Sheets, Ruth 152 

Sheets, Tom 1 55 

Shelton, Gilbert 1 39, 148, 

153, 154 

Shenandoah Valley 36 

Sheppard family 58 

Sherfy, Joel 1 88 

Sherfy, Robert L 134, 217 

Shoemaker, Sally 92 

Showalter, Russell K 205, 209 

Shull, Chalmer 218 

Shull, Melvin C 186 

Shull, Merlin 217 

Sides family 99 

Silvers, A. Z 206, 207 

Silvers, James G 206 

Slagle, G. W 167 

Slavery 21 -22, 98, 99 

Slusher, Jeremiah H 102, 144 

Smawley, Charles 202 

Smawley, Joe 202 

Smawley, Joe Francis 202 

Smawley, Rosa 202 

Smawley, Sarah Lee 202 

Smith, C. Henry 9 

Smith. E. Lee 201 

Smith, George 38 

Smith, Joseph 38 

Smith, Leander 200-201 

Smith, Richard A., 169 

Smyth County, Va 148 

Snavely, Harper 196 

Snider family 7 

Soelle, George 11-14 

Somerset County, Pa 29 

Southeastern District 213-214 

Spartanburg County, S. C 117 

Spartanburg fellowship 199, 208 209 

Spener, Philip Jacob 1 

Spindale congregation 204 205 

Splits in the church 149, 1 59, 

1 78-182, 190 

Statesville fellowship 132, 207 208 

Stauffer, Ulrich 10 

Stealing 99 

Steiner, Abraham 90 

Strassburger-Hinke 19 

Stutzman, Daniel 20 

Stutzman, Jacob 8-1 3, 1 6, 

18, 23, 64, 86 

Stutzman, Joel 20 

Stutzman, Marymagdalane 20 

Suit, R. B., 148 

Suit, R.L 148 

Summers, Joseph 58-59 

Summers, Mary 59 

Sunday School 1 05, 1 06, 1 25, 

126, 134, 146, 151 152, 

164, 172, 182-183, 194, 


Susquehanna River 9, 22-23 

Swadley, Laura Gwin 194 

Switzerland 51-52 


Tanner, George 46, 48-49, 


Tanner, Henry 49 

Tanner, Jacob 49 

Tanner James 63 

Tanner, John 49-50, 79, 81 

Tanner, Kenneth 205 

Tanner, Michael 10, 23-24, 49 

Taylor, Thomas 31 

Three Top congregation *.105 

Thweatts family 58 

Tipton, R. Vance 1 63, 1 67, 1 69, 

1 71, 178, 180 

Tipton, Samuel 1 09 

Tomkins, Leo 143 

Tompkins, C. C 144 

Townsend, Leah 26-27, 30, 37 

Tract literature 118 

Travelers Rest congregation 206-207 

Trout family 46 

Tuchosokin community 39-40 

Tucker, F. P 97, 98, 100 

Tucker, George W 143, 1 55 

Tunkers 1,3 


Ulrich family 7 

Universalism 54 76, 89 

Upper Brummetts 

Creek congregation 166, 180 181 

Urner, Martin 64 

Utt, Otte 143, 146 

Uwharrie River 8-9, 11-12, 48 


Van Etten, Samuel 70 

Varner, Adam 11 

Vaughn, Jim 142 

Vest, Annie 146 

Vines, Andy 115 


Wachovia 48, 50, 53 

Wagner family 78 

Wagoner, Hans 27, 78 

Wampler, B. J 196 

Ware, L. G 202, 205 

War of Independence 15 18 

War relief 135, 153 

Warren County, Ky., 44, 46 

Warren, James 31 

Warren Miller Funeral Home 1 57 

Wateree River 6 

Waters, Mary 1 94 Z 

Wayne, Bronard 139 

Wayne, L. B 157 _,., ' ' ' zl 

y ' ' Zigler, M. R 124 91' 

Weaver family 89 * ' „ ' ., ' , 

„ „ Zimmerman family 7 q 

Webb, Jason 171 -,. „,., v ' ' " '' a 

' Zinn, Phi 1 36 i ■=;« 1 fici 

Weddle, John B 1 02 

Weiser, Conrad 61 

Weitner family 7 

Welch, Carl 124, 178, 217 

Welch, DP 122, 1 23 

Welch, Fred 92, 1 24 

Welch, Gladys 217 

Welsh Neck Baptist Church 55 

Wellty, Abraham 44, 45, 46 

Wentz, Abdel Ross 22-23, 24 

West, Dan 134, 164 

West, E. K 203 

West, J. K., 185, 195, 202, 

203, 205, 206 

West, L. B 205 

West, M. Guy 186, 196 

West, Mary 203 

West, Russell G 171 

Western migration 8, 1 8-1 9, 47, 50, 93 

Wheat, Yellow Lammas 58 

White, John B 217 

White, Paul 1 51 

White Rock congregation 140 141 

White, Roy I., 205 

Whittemore, Thomas 57, 60, 73, 

74, 78 

Wilkes County, N. C 46, 81 

Williams, Paul 38 

Williar, Frank 217 

Willis, John 176, 180 

Willis, Robert 110, 167, 176 

Wilkins, Vernon 150, 185 

Wilson, Carter 142 

Wilson, M. G 186 

Wilson, M.J 1 96 

Winchester, Elhanan 54-57, 64 

Winchester, Va., 52 

Wine, J. C 218 

Wine, Joseph 1 09 

Wine, Roland 196 

Wine, Ronald K 216 

Wingler, Green 1 39 

Wingler, Spencer 1 32, 1 39, 1 56 

Winkler, Robert 1 69 

Winston Salem, N. C, 48 

Wolff, Henrich 10 

Woodie, E. C. 129, 196 

Woodie, H. J 126, 186, 212 

Woodie, John C 103, 105, 108, 

126, 184, 191 

Wyant, Henry 195, 208 

Wyatt, Archie 1 32, 1 53, 1 56 

Wyatt, Emily 1 07 

Wyatt, Wilson 1 03, 1 07 

Yadkin congregation 19-25 

Yancey County, N. C, 108 

Yellow Poplar congregation 109, 166 

Yelton, Andrew L., 180, 190, 195, 

202, 205, 206 

Yoder family 7 

York County, Pa 9, 22 

Yount, Anna Magdalena 52 

Youth Adult Leadership Exchange 224 

185, 216 

Zinzendorf, Count 3£ 

Zug, Peter %{ 

Zumbrum, Paul 211 


.- 1-' 

rEbU C 

I4AR0 5 

DEMCO 38-297 


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